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y+ * PIOPBKTY OF THE 




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• 6 < 7 



ARTES SC IE NT I A VERITAS 





A. W. SCHLEGEL 






MAIN CURRENTS IN 

NINETEENTH CENTURY 
LITERATURE 



BY 

GEORGE BRANDES 

IN SIX VOLUMES ILLUSTRATED 
II 

THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 



NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 

MCMVI 



/tat, 

V.O- 



Prxmtsd in England 






CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION I 

>/ I. THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM . i? 

II. HOLDERLIN 44 

III. A. W. SCHLEGEL 49 

IV. TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 59 

- V. SOCIAL ENDEAVOURS OF THE ROMANTICISTS : 

LUCINDE 69 

/ VI- ROMANTIC PURPOSELESSNESS 75 

VII. "LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 81 

VIII. SCHLEIERMACHER'S LETTERS 99 

IX. WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC . 109 
X. ATTITUDE OF ROMANTICISM TO ART AND 

NATURE 130 

- XL ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY . 152 

- XII. ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 181 

-XIII. LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" .... 207 

XIV. ARNIM AND BRENTANO 230 

XV. MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA . . 253 

XVI. ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS . .293 

XVII. ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 310 



" Men Gewalten 
Zum Trutvt tich erbalten, 
Nimmtr tub beugen . . ." 

— Goethb. 

M Philojopbiren Ut dtpblegmatitiren, itt vivificiren" 

NOYALIS. 



LIST OF PORTRAITS 

A. W. SCHLEGEL Frontispiece 

LUDWIG TIECK To face page 60 

FRIEDRICH SCHLEGEL 70 

SCHLEIERMACHER „ 102 

W. HOFFMANN „ 162 

NOVALIS „ „ 182 



THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL 
IN GERMANY 

INTRODUCTION 

The task of giving a connected account of the German 
Romantic School is, for a Dane, an arduous and dis- 
heartening one. In the first place, the subject is over- 
whelmingly vast ; in the second, it has been treated again 
and again by German writers; and, lastly, these writers, in 
their division of labour, have entered so learnedly into every 
detail, that it is impossible for a foreigner, one, moreover, 
to whom the sources are not always accessible, to com- 
pete with them in exhaustive knowledge. From their 
childhood they have been familiar with a literature with 
which he first makes acquaintance at an age when assimi- 
lation, in any quantity, has become a much more difficult 
process. What the foreigner must rely on is, partly the 
decision with which he takes up and maintains his personal 
standpoint, partly the possibility that he may display qualities 
which are not characteristic of the native author. Such a 
quality in the case in point is the artistic faculty, the faculty, 
I mean, of representation, of externalisation. The German 
nature is so intense and profound that this faculty is com- 
paratively rare. The foreigner has, moreover, this advantage 
over the native, that it is easier for him to detect the mark 
of race — that in the German author which stamps him as 
a German. The German critic is too apt to consider 
" German " synonymous with " human being," for the reason 
that the human beings he deals with are almost always 
Germans. The foreigner is struck by characteristics which 



2 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

are overlooked by the native, sometimes because he is so 
accustomed to them, more frequently because he himself 
possesses them. 

There are many works to be criticised and classified, 
many personalities to describe. My aim will be to present 
these personalities and works in as firm and sharp outline 
as possible, and, without giving undue attention to detail, 
to throw light upon the whole in such a manner that 
its principal features will stand out and arrest the eye. I 
shall endeavour, on the one hand, to treat the history of 
literature as humanly as possible, to go as deep down 
as I can, to seize upon the remotest, innermost psycho- 
logical movements which prepared for and produced the 
various literary phenomena ; and on the other hand, I shall 
try to present the result in as plastic and tangible a form as 
possible. If I can succeed in giving shape, clear and accu- 
rate, to the hidden feeling, the idea, which everywhere 
underlies the literary phenomenon, my task will be accom- 
plished. By preference, I shall always, when possible, em- 
body the abstract in the personal. 

First and foremost, therefore, I everywhere trace the 
connection between literature and life. This is at once 
proved by the fact that, whereas earlier Danish literary con- 
troversies (that between Heiberg and Hauch, for example, or 
even the famous one between Baggesen and Oehlenschlager) 
were kept entirely within the domain of literature and dealt 
exclusively with literary principles, the controversy aroused 
by the first volume of this work has entailed, quite as much 
from the nature of the work as from the irrationality of its 
opponents, the discussion of a multitude of moral, social, 
and religious questions. The Danish reaction, feeling itself 
to be akin to the one I am about to depict and un- 
mask, has attempted to suppress the movement which it 
recognised to be antagonistic to itself — but so far with little 
prospect of success. A French proverb says : Nul prince ria 
tut son successeur. 

When, however, the connection between literature and life 
is thus emphasised, the delineations and interpretations of men 
and their books by no means produce what we may call draw- 



INTRODUCTION 3 

ing-room history of literature. I go down to the foundations 
of real life, and show how the emotions which find their 
expression in literature arise in the human heart. And this 
same human heart is no still pool, no idyllic mountain lake. 
It is an ocean, with submarine vegetation and terrible inhabi- 
tants. Drawing-room history of literature, like drawing-room 
poetry, sees in human life a drawing-room, a decorated ball- 
room — the furniture and the people alike polished, the 
brilliant illumination excluding all possibility of dark corners. 
Let those who choose to do so look at things thus ; it is not 
my point of view. Just as the botanist must handle nettles 
as well as roses, so the student of literature must accus- 
tom himself to look, with the unflinching gaze of the natura- 
list or the physician, upon all the forms taken by human 
nature, in their diversity and their inward affinity. It makes 
the plant neither more nor less interesting that it smells 
sweet or stings ; but the dispassionate interest of the botanist 
is often accompanied by the purely human pleasure in the 
beauty of the flower. 

As I follow the more important literary movements from 
country to country, studying their psychology, I attempt to 
condense the fluid material by showing how, from time to 
time, it crystallises into one or other definite and intelligible 
type. The attempt is attended with extraordinary diffi- 
culty in this particular period of German literature, from 
the fact that the chief characteristic of the period is an 
absence of distinctly typical forms. This literature is not 
plastic ; it is musical. French Romanticism produces clearly 
defined figures ; the ideal of German Romanticism is not a 
figure, but a melody, not definite form, but infinite aspira- 
tion. Is it obliged to name the object of its longing? It 
designates it by such terms as " ein geheimes Wort," " eine 
blaue Blume," " der Zauber der Waldeinsamkeit " (a mystic 
word — a blue flower — the magic of the lonely woods). 
These expressions are, however, definitions of moods, and 
each mood has a corresponding psychological condition , 
my task is to trace back each mood, emotion, or longing 
to the group of psychological conditions to which it belongs. 
This group in combination constitutes a soul ; and such 



4 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a soul, with strongly marked individuality, represents in 
literature the many who were unable to depict their 
own character, but who recognised it when thus placed 
before them. I may possibly succeed in proving that the 
type does not escape us because the author may have 
chosen to paint landscape after landscape in place of deline- 
ating characteristic personalities, or because he confounds 
literature with music to the extent of at last entitling his 
poems simply Allegro or Rondo ; but that, on the contrary, 
the distinctly peculiar qualities of these landscapes and the 
character of this word-music are symptomatic of a psycho- 
logical condition which may be determined with considerable 
accuracy. 

In the general introduction to this work I have sketched 
the plan which I have proposed to myself. It is my intention 
to describe the first great literary movement of the century, 
the germinating and growing reaction, first elucidating its 
nature, then following it to its climax. Afterwards I shall show 
how this reaction was met by a breeze of liberalism blowing 
from the eighteenth century, which swells into a gale and 
sweeps away all opposition. Not that the liberal views of 
the nineteenth century are ever identical with those of the 
eighteenth, or that its literary forms or scientific ideas ever 
bear the eighteenth century stamp. Neither Voltaire, nor 
Rousseau, nor Diderot, neither Lessing nor Schiller, neither 
Hume nor Godwin, rise from the dead ; but they are one 
and all avenged upon their enemies. 

Regarded as a whole, German Romanticism is reaction. 
Nevertheless, as an intellectual, poetico- philosophical re- 
action, it contains many germs of new development, un- 
mistakable productions of that spirit of progress which, 
by remoulding the old, creates the new, and by altering 
boundaries gains territory. 

The older Romanticists begin, without exception, as the 
apostles of "enlightenment." They introduce a new tone 
into German poetry, give their works a new colour, and, 
in addition to this, revive both the spirit and the substance 
of the old fairy-tale, Volkslied, and legend. They exercise 
at first a fertilising influence upon German science ; research 



INTRODUCTION 5 

in the domains of history, ethnography, and jurisprudence, 
the study of German antiquity, Indian and Greek-Latin 
philology, and the systems and dreams of the NaturphUosophie 
all receive their first impulse from Romanticism. They 
widened the emotional range of German poetry, though the 
emotions to which they gave expression were more fre- 
quently morbid than healthy. As critics, they originally, 
and with success, aimed at enlarging the spiritual horizon. 
In their social capacity they vowed undying hatred 
to all dead conventionality in the relations between the 
sexes. The best among them in their youth laboured 
ardently for the intensification of that spiritual life which 
is based upon a belief in the s upernatural." In politics, 
when not indifferent, they generally began as very theo- 
retical republicans ; who, however, in spite of their cos- 
mopolitanism, strove to elevate and strengthen German 
patriotism. 

Unfortunately, their pursuit of all these worthy aims 
ended in comparative failure. Of all that the German 
Romanticists produced, little will endure — some masterly 
translations by A. W. Schlegel, a few of Tiects productions, 
a handful of Hardenberg's and another of EichendorflF's 
lyrics, some of Friedrich Schlegel's essays, a few of Arnim's 
and Brentano's smaller works, a select number of Hoffmann's 
tales, and some very remarkable dramas and tales from the 
pen of that eccentric but real genius, Heinrich von Kleist. 
The rest of the life-work of the Romanticists has disappeared 
from the memory of the present generation. Looking back v 
on it from this distance, most of their endeavour seems 
to have ended in smoke. In the matter of language, with 
their intan gible image ry, their misus e of words in expressing 
the. strange, weird, and mysterious, their archaisms, and their 
determination" fo be unintelligible to the ordmary reader, 
they rather diminished than enriched the poetic vocabulary, 
rather corrupted than improved literary style. In the\ 
domain of poetry, Romanticism ended in hysterical piety 
and vapouring. In the social domain it occupied itself with 
only one question, that of the relations between the sexes ; 
and its ideas on this subject were, for the most part, so 



6 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

abnormal and morbidly unhealthy, that most of its passionate 
blows were dealt in the air. In dealing them, it was not 
humanity at large that the Romanticists had in view, but 
a few favoured, aristocratic, artistic natures. In religious 
matters, these men, whose moral and poetical theories 
were at first so revolutionary, bowed their necks to the 
yoke the moment they saw it. And in politics it was they 
who directed the proceedings of the Congress of Vienna 
and prepared its manifestoes, abolishing liberty of thought 
in the interval between a religious festival in St. Stephen's 
and an oyster supper with Fanny Elsler. 

I shall touch but seldom and briefly upon Danish 
literature, only now and again ' piercing in the canvas of 
the panorama I am unrolling a hole through which the 
situation in Denmark may be seen. Not that I forget or 
lose sight of Danish literature. On the contrary, it is ever 
present with me. Whilst trying to present to my readers 
the inner history of a foreign literature, I am all the time 
making indirect contributions to the history of our own. 
I am painting the background which is required to throw 
its characteristics into relief. I am working at the founda- 
tion upon which, according to my conviction, the history 
of modern Danish literature rests. My method may be 
indirect, but it is the more thorough for that. I should 
like, however, in a few words, to indicate the general 
conclusion to which a comparison between Danish and 
foreign literature at this period has led me. 

The relative positions of Germany and Denmark may be 
defined as follows : German literature is at this period com- 
paratively original in its aims and its productions ; Danish 
literature either continues the working out of a peculiarly 
Scandinavian vein, or builds upon German foundations. 
The Danish authors have, as a rule, read and assimilated 
the German ; the German authors have neither read nor 
been in any way influenced by the Danes. Steffens, through 
whom we receive the impetus from Germany, is the devoted 
disciple of Schelling. Witness the following passage from 
one of his letters to that philosopher: "I am your pupil, 
absolutely and entirely your pupil. All that I produce was 



INTRODUCTION 7 

originally yours. This is no passing feeling ; it is my firm 
conviction that such is the case, and I do not think the 
less of myself for it. Therefore, when once I have produced 
a really great work which I should gladly call mine, I shall, 
as soon as it has been recognised, publicly, enthusiastically, 
proclaim you to be my teacher, and hand over to you my 
laurel wreath." l 

In German literature there is more life, in the corre- 
sponding Danish literature more art. It is Germany which 
produces, which unearths, the material. That literature of 
which Romanticism is the first development, lives and moves 
and revels in intense emotions, struggles with problems, 
creates forms which it dashes to pieces again. Danish litera- 
ture takes German material and ideas, instinct with life, and 
often succeeds in moulding them more artistically, giving 
them clearer expression than their German producers do. 
(Note, for example, the case of Tieck and Heiberg.) The 
Danes apply and remodel, or they embody kindred ideas 
in more favourable and more plastic material, such, or 
instance, as that provided by the Scandinavian mythology 
and legends. 

The result, as I have elsewhere shown, is that Roman- 
ticism acquired more lucidity and clearer contours on Danish 
soil. It became less a thing of the night ; it ventured, veiled, 
into the light of the sun. It felt that it had come to a sedate, 
sober-minded people, a people who were not yet quite sure 
that moonlight was not unnatural and sentimental. It came 
up from the deep mine shafts from which Novalis had been 
the first to conjure it, and, with Oehlenschlager's Vaulundur, 
hammered on the mountain-side till the mountain burst open 
and laid all its treasures bare to the light of day. It felt 
that it had come to another, a more serene and idyllic clime ; 
it shook off all its weirdness ; its thick, shapeless mists con- 
densed into slender river nymphs ; it forgot the Harz and 
the Blocksberg, ancl took up its abode one beautiful Mid- 
summer Eve in the Deer Park near Copenhagen. 8 

Aladdin is a finer and more intelligible literary work than 

1 G. L. Plitt : Aus Sehellin^s Leben, L 309. 
1 G. Brandes : SamlccU Skrifier, i. 464. 



8 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Tieck's Kaiser Oktavianus, but Oehlenschlager could not deny 
that Aladdin would never have been written if Oktavianus had 
not been in existence. Heiberg's Julespdg og NytaarslCjer is 
to the full as witty as Tieck's Aristophanic satires, but the 
whole idea — the play within the play, the literary satire, 
and the blending of the sentimental with the ironical — 
is borrowed from Tieck, and, what is worse, is only com- 
prehensible from Tieck's standpoint. In short, there is in 
Oehlenschlager, Hauch, and Heiberg more form than in 
Novalis, Tieck, and Fr. Schlegel, but less substance — that is 
to say, less direct connection with real life. German litera- 
ture has too often formed the connecting link. We Danes 
have too often refused to occupy ourselves, in literature, with 
the great problems of life, have simply dismissed them when 
we could not succeed in giving them correct literary form. 

Looked at from the psychological point of view, the 
position may be described as follows. The Danish Romantic 
authors have, generally speaking, been the superiors of the 
Germans as regards art, their inferiors as regards intellect. 
As a rule, every production of the German author, however 
small, though it be formless, weak, nay, actually a failure, yet 
expresses a whole philosophy of life, and that no fanciful 
philosophy, but one evolved and matured by personal ex- 
perience, and stamped with the whole astonishingly many- 
sided culture which distinguishes the educated German. A 
poem by Novalis, a tale by Tieck or Hoffmann, or a play 
by Kleist, contains a poetico-philosophical theory of life; 
and it is the theory not only of a poet, but of a man. A 
tragedy by Oehlenschlager again, or a fairy tale by Ander- 
sen, or a vaudeville by Hostrup, will almost invariably be 
distinguished by such distinctly poetical qualities as fancy, 
feeling, whimsicality, gaiety, youthful freshness and aplomb, 
but the philosophy is too often as primitive as a child's. 
Heiberg is almost the only writer in whose works there is 
any sign of a philosophy based upon science, and acquiring 
ever more profundity from the experiences of life. Of real 
development there are often only faint traces. The youth- 
ful works of such authors as Oehlenschlager, Winther, and 
Andersen are as perfect as those of their maturity. Some- 



INTRODUCTION 9 

times, as in the case of Oehlenschlager, advancing years 
produce in the talent a suspicion of corpulence, of unctuous- 
ness. Sometimes, as in the case of Paludan-Muller, the 
ideal grows more and more attenuated. When a change 
does take place, it rarely signifies that the author has gradu- 
ally evolved for himself a new philosophy of life ; no — after 
treading the narrow path of poetry for a time, he strikes 
into one of the two great highroads, either the road of 
middle-class respectability or the road of orthodox piety. 
The dressing-gown or the cassock — one or other of these 
garments almost inevitably supersedes the Spanish cloak of 
poetic youth. 

It may, then, generally speaking, be asserted that, in 
those cases where it is possible to compare the German 
Romanticists with the Danish, the former have the more 
original philosophy of life, and are greater as personalities, 
whatever they may be as poets. 

Let us look at the subject from a third point of view. 
To the Danish authors, as a body, may be attributed the 
merit of avoiding the fantastic, tasteless extravagances of 
which the Germans are frequently guilty. The Danes stop 
in time ; they avoid paradox or do not carry it to its 
logical conclusion ; they have the steadiness due to naturally 
well-balanced minds and naturally phlegmatic dispositions ; 
they are hardly ever indecent, audacious, blasphemous, 
revolutionary, wildly fantastic, utterly sentimental, utterly 
unreal, or utterly sensual ; they seldom run amuck, 
they never tilt at the clouds, and they never fall into a 
well. This is what makes them so popular with their own 
countrymen. Unerring taste and elegance, such as dis- 
tinguish Heiberg's poetry and Gade's music, vigorous, 
healthy originality, such as characterises Oehlenschlager's 
and Hartmann's best works, will always be prized by Danes 
as the expression of noble and self-controlled art. What 
a contrast is presented by the overstrained, extravagant 
personalities peopling the Romantic hospital of Germany I 
A phthisical Moravian Brother with the consumptive's ^en-%/ 
suality and the consumptive's mystic yearnings — Novalis. 
A satj£ical hypochondriac, subject to hallucinations and with 



io THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

morbid leanings to Catholicism — Tieck. A genius, impotent 
to produce, but with the propensity of genius to revolt and 
the imperative craving of impotence to subject itself to outward 
authority — Friedrich Schlegel. A dissipated fantast with the 
half-insane imagination of the drunkard — Hoffmann. A 
foolish mystic like Werner, and a genius like the suicide 
Kleist. Think of Hoffmann, and his pupil, Hans Andersen, 
and observe how sane, but also how sober and subdued, 
Andersen appears compared with his first master. 

It is, then, certain that there is more of the quality of 
harmony among the Danes. And it is easy to understand 
that those who regard harmony, even when meagre, as the 
highest quality of art, will inevitably rank the Danish litera- 
ture of the first decades of this century above the German. 
It has, however, to a great extent attained to this harmony 
by means of caution, by lack of artistic courage. The 
Danish poets never fell, because they never mounted to a 
height from which there was any danger of falling. They 
left it to others to ascend Mont Blanc. They escaped 
breaking their necks, but they never gathered the Alpine 
flowers which only bloom on the giddy heights or on the 
brink of precipices. The quality in literature which, it 
seems to me, we Danes have never sufficiently prized, is 
boldness, that quality in the author which incites him, 
regardless of consequences, to give expression to his 
artistic ideal. The daring development of what is typical 
in his literary tendency, often constitutes the beauty of 
his work ; or, to put it more plainly, when a literary 
tendency like Romanticism develops in the direction of 
pure fancy, that author seems to me the most interesting, 
who rises to the most daring heights of fantastic ex- 
travagance — as, for instance, Hoffmann. The more madly 
fantastic he is, the finer he is, just as the poplar is finer the 
taller it is, and the beech finer the more stately and wide- 
spreading it is. The fineness lies in the daring and vigour 
with which that which is typical is expressed. He who 
discovers a new country may, in the course of his explora- 
tions, be stranded on a reef. It is an easy matter to avoid 
the reef and leave the country undiscovered. The Danish 



INTRODUCTION n 

Romanticists are never insane like HotEmann, bet neither 
are they ever daemonic like him. They lose in throng, 
overpowering life^md energy what they gain in luodiry ai>i 
readableness. They appeal to a greater number and a more 
varied class of readers, but they do not enthral them. The 
more vigorous originality alarms the many, but fasdnairs 
the few. In Danish Romanticism there is none ot Friedxich 
Schlegel's audacious immorality, but neither is there any- 
thing like that spirit of opposition which in him amounts 
to genius ; his ardour melts, and his daring moulds into new 
and strange shapes, much that we accept as unalterable. 
Nor do the Danes become Catholic mystics. Protestant 
orthodoxy in its most petrified form flourishes with us : so 
do supernaturalism and pietism ; and in Grunritvigianism 
we slide down the inclined plane which leads to Catholi- 
cism ; but in this matter, as in every other, we never take 
the final step ; we shrink back from the last consequences. 
The result is that the Danish reaction is far more insidious 
and covert than the German. Veiling itself as vice does, 
it clings to the altars of the Church, which have always 
been a sanctuary for criminals of every species. It is never 
possible to lay hold of it, to convince it then and there 
that its principles logically lead to intolerance, inquisition, 
and despotism. Kierkegaard, for example, is in religion 
orthodox, in politics a believer in absolutism, towards the 
close of his career a fanatic. Yet — and this is a genuinely 
Rpmantic trait— he all his life long avoids d rawing any 
practical conclusi ons from his doctrines; one only catches 
an occasional glimpse of such a feeling as admiration for the 
Inquisition, or hatred of natural science. 

Let us take, by way of contrast, another supporter of 
orthodoxy and absolutism, Joseph de Maistre, as high- 
minded and sincere a believer as Kierkegaard, and equally 
philanthropic. De Maistre pursues all his theories to their 
clear conclusions, shirking nothing which must be regarded 
as a direct consequence of his beliefs. Like Kierkegaard, 
he is a man of brilliant parts and solid culture, but whereas 
Kierkegaard, when it comes to practical applications, is as 
afraid of "public scandal" as any old maid, De Maistre 
vol. it. B 



12 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

boldly accepts all necessary consequences. The famous 
passage in praise of the executioner in the sixth conversa- 
tion of the Soirees de Saint-Petersbourg, leaves nothing to be 
desired in the matter of plain speaking. The executioner 
is a " sublime being," " the corner-stone of society ; " along 
with him "all social order disappears." According to De 
Maistre's theory, two powers are required to quell the re- 
bellious spirits — the spirit of unbelief and the spirit of dis- 
obedience — let loose by the French Revolution, and these 
two are the Pope and the executioner. The Pope and the 
executioner are the two main props of society ; the one 
crushes the revolutionary thought with his bull, the other 
cuts off the revolutionary head with his axe. It is a plea- 
sure to read such argument. Here we have vigour and 
determination, effectual expression of a clear thought, ener- 
getic and undisguised reaction. And De Maistre is the 
same in everything. He is not, like Danish reactionaries 
who call themselves Liberals, reactionary in social matters 
and religion, and liberal or half-liberal in politics. He 
loathes political liberty ; he jeers (in his letters) at the 
emancipation of women ; in a special essay he deliberately 
and warmly defends the Spanish Inquisition ; and in all true- 
heartedness and manly seriousness he desires the reinstitu- 
tion of the auto-da-fe, and is not ashamed to say it, seeing 
that he thinks it. Look well at such a man as this — 
gifted and eminent, great as a statesman, great as an author, 
who sacrifices his whole fortune sooner than make the least 
concession to the Revolution, which he abhors, or to 
Napoleon, whom he detests ; who frankly adores the exe- 
cutioner as the indispensable upholder of order ; who gives 
the gallows the most important place in his statute-book, 
and counsels the Church to have recourse to the axe and the 
faggot — there is a figure worthy of note ; a proud, bold coun- 
tenance, which expresses an unmistakable mental bent, and 
which one does not forget. This is a type one takes plea- 
sure in, as the naturalist takes pleasure in a fine specimen of 
a species of which he has hitherto only met with imperfect 
and unsatisfactory examples. Looking at the matter from a 
practical point of view, it may be considered fortunate that 



INTRODUCTION 13 

such personalities are not to be found in Danish literature, 
but their absence gives a less plastic character to its history. 

It is all very well to say that we Danes only assimilated 
the good and healthy elements of German Romanticism. 
When we see how the German Romanticists end, we com- 
prehend that from the very beginning there was concealed 
in Romanticism a reactionary principle which prescribed 
the course — the curve — of their careers. 

Friedrich Schlegel, the author of Lucinde, the free- 
thinking admirer of Fichte, who, in his Versuch uber den 
Begriff des Republikanismus (Essay on the Idea of Repub- 
licanism), called the democratic republic, with female 
suffrage, the only reasonable form of government, is con- 
verted to Catholicism, becomes a mystic and a faithful 
servant of the Church, and in his later writings endeavours 
to promote the cause of reactionary absolutism. Novalis 
and Schleiermacher, who in their early writings display a 
mixture of pantheism and pietism, of Spinoza and Zinzen- 
dorf, steadily drift away from Spinoza and approach 
orthodoxy. In his later life Schleiermacher recants those 
Letters on Lucinde which he had written in a spirit of the 
purest youthful enthusiasm. Novalis, who in his youthful 
letters declares himself " prepared for any sort of enlighten- 
ment," and hopes that he may live to see "a new mas- 
sacre of St. Bartholemew, a wholesale destruction of 
despotisms and prisons," who desires a republic, and who, 
at the time when Fichte is prosecuted for atheism, remarks, 
" Brave Fichte is really fighting for us all," — this same Nova- 
lis ends by looking on the king in the light of an earthly 
Providence, condemning Protestantism as revolutionary, de- 
fending the temporal power of the Pope, and extolling the 
spirit of Jesuitism. Fouqud, the knight without fear and 
without reproach, becomes in the end a pietist Don Quixote, 
whose great desire is a return to the conditions of feuda- 
lism. Clemens jBrentan o. in his youth the most mettlesome 
of poets, who both in life and literature made war upon 
every species of convention, becomes the credulous secre- 
tary of a nun, a hysterical visionary ; does nothing for 
the space of five years but fill volume after volume with the 



14 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

sayings of Anna Katharina Emmerich. Zacharias Werner 
is a variant of the same Romantic type. He starts in 
his career as a friend of " enlightenment " ; but soon a 
process of moral dissolution begins ; he first extols Luther, 
then turns Roman Catholic and recants his eulogy ; in the 
end he becomes a priest, and as such displays, both in his 
life and in his sentimentally gross writings and sermons, a 
combination of coarse sensuality and priestly unction. 

And Steffens — he who stormed the heaven of German 
Romanticism, carried the sacred fire to Denmark, and set 
men's minds in such violent uproar that he was compelled 
to leave his country — what of him? what was he? An 
upright, weak character, with a brain charged with confused 
enthusiasms ; all feeling and imitative fancy ; no lucidity of 
thought or pregnant concision of style. It is literally impos- 
sible to read the so-called scientific writings of his later 
period ; one runs the risk of being drowned in watery 
sentimentality or smothered by ennui. "When," says 
Julian Schmidt, "he expounded the Naturphilosophie in his 
broken German from the professorial chair, his mathe- 
matical calculations came out wrong and his experiments 
failed, but his audience was carried away by his earnest- 
ness, his almost religious solemnity, his naive, child-like 
enthusiasm." Nauvet6 was a quality that the Northerner 
of those days seldom lacked. In his best days, Steffens, 
captivated by the theories of the Naturphilosophie, took an 
innocent pleasure in tracing the attributes of the human 
mind in minerals, in humanising geology and botany. But 
the Revolution of July turned his head. Inflamed by pietism, 
that elderly lady who for the last thirteen years had been the 
object of his affections, and for whose sake he had already 
more than once entered the lists, he closed his literary career 
with a series of feeble attacks upon the young writers of 
post-revolutionary Germany. 

In this he was only following in the footsteps of his 
master, Schelling. Schelling, who, in marked contrast to 
Fichte with his clear doctrine of the Ego, dwells upon the 
mysterious nature of the mind, and bases not only philosophy, 
but also art and religion, upon the perception of genius, the 



INTRODUCTION 15 

so-called " intellectual intuition/' displays both in his doctrine 
and in his want of method the affitrariness . the l awlessness , 
which is the kernel of Romanticism. As early as 1002, in 
his Bruno, he used the significant expression and future 
catchword, "Christian philosophy," though he still main- 
tained that, in genuine religious value, the Bible is not to be 
compared with the sacred books of India — a theory which 
even Gflrres champions in the early stage of his literary 
career. Having, like Novalis, at Tieck's instigation, made a 
close study of Jakob Bdhme and the other mystics, Schelling 
began to philosophise mystically on the subject of " Nature^ 
JnjGrQdJ' an expression appropriated by Martensen in his 
Spekulative Dogmatik. But when, shortly afterwards, a patent 
of nobility was conferred on him (as professor at the Univer- 
sity of Munich), and he was made President of the Academy 
of Science in Catholic and clerical Bavaria, the famous 
" Philosophy of Revelation " (Offenbarungsphilosophie) com- 
menced to germinate in his mind. Soon the transformation 
was complete ; the fiery enthusiast had become a courtier, the 
prophet a charlatan. With his mysteries, his announce- 
ments of a marvellous science, "which had hitherto been 
considered impossible," his refusal to print his wisdom, to 
do anything but communicate it verbally, and even then 
not in its entirety, he qualified himself for being called, after 
Hegel's death, to Berlin, to lend a helping hand to State 
religion in the " Christian-Germanic " police-governed Prussia 
of the day, and to teach a State philosophy, for which, as he 
himself said, the only suitable name is Christology. Here it 
was that the young generation, the Hegelians of the Left,, 
fell upon him and tore his mystic cobweb into a thousand 
pieces. 

Yet Schelling is the least irrational of the Romantic philo- 
sophers. He is vehemently accused of heresy by Franz 
Baader, the reincarnated Jakob B2^me r the object of Kierke- 
gaard's admiration, who reproaches him with setting the* 
Trinity upon a logical balance-pole, and, still worse, with 
daring to deny_J^^xis.tence-Qf^^erspnal devil. The utter- 
ances of the others are in keeping with this. Schubert writes 
The Symbolism of Dreams — was not the dream the ideal of 



1 6 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Romanticism ? — occupies himself in all seriousness with inter- 
preting them, happy in his persuasion that clairvoyance and 
visions are the highest sources of knowledge. The vision- 
seer of Prevorst, whom Strauss, characteristically enough, 
begins his public career by exposing, plays an important part 
in those days. Then there is Gorres, who at the time of the 
great Revolution was " inspired to triumphal song by the fall 
of Rome and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire," 
and who afterwards took an active and honourable part in 
rousing German patriotic spirit during the struggle against 
Napoleon ; this same Gorres becomes the author of Christian 
Mysticis m (a book which Kierkegaard read with shudders of 
awe), revels in the blood of martyrs, gloats over the agonies, 
and ecstasies of the saints, enumerates the different aureoles, 
nail-prints, and wounds in the side by which they are 
distinguished, and prostrates himself in the dust, he, the 
old Jacobin, before the one true Catholic Church, chant- 
ing the praises of the Holy Alliance. To these add the 
politicians : Adam Miiller, who, as Gotschall has aptly said, 
pursues in politics the quest_of Novalis's "blue flower," 
who would fain fuse §tate f Science, Church, and Stage 
into o ne marvellous unit ~p Halle7T who concealed his con- 
version to Catholicism in order to retain his appointments, 
and who, in his Restauration der Staatswissenschaften (Revival 
of the Science of Statesmanship), bases this science upon 
theocracy ; Leo (scathingly criticised by Ruge), who, in the 
same spirit, inveighs against the humanity of the age and its 
reluctance to shed the blood of Radicals ; and Stahl, who, 
in his Philosophy of Law, compares marriage to the relation 
between Christ and the Church, the family to the Trinity, ~ 
and the earthly right of succession to man^s right to the 
heavenly inheritance. Taking all this together, one feels as if 
Romanticism ended in a sort of witches' Sabbath, in which 
the philosophers play the part of the old crones, amidst the 
thunders of the obscurantists, the insane yells of the mystics, 
and the shouts of the politicians for temporal and ecclesias- 
tical despotism, while theology and theosoghy fall upon the 
sciences and suffocate them with their caresses. 



I 

THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 

Any one who makes acquaintance with the Germany of to- 
day, either by travelling in the country or by reading about 
it, and then compares it with the Germany of the beginning 
of the century, is astounded by the contrast. What a dis- 
tance between then and now ! Who would believe that this 
Realistic Germany had ever been a Romantic Germany 1 

Public utterances, private conversation, the very physi- 
ognomy of the towns, bear in our days a distinct stamp of 
realism. Walk along any street in Berlin, and you meet 
men in uniform, officers and privates, erect, decorated. The 
literature in the windows of the bookshops has for the most 
part a practical tendency. Even the furniture and orna- 
ments are influenced by the new spirit. One cannot imagine 
anything more prosaic and warlike than the shop of a Berlin 
dealer in fancy articles. On the clocks, where of old a 
knight in armour knelt and kissed his lady's finger-tips, 
Uhlans and Cuirassiers now stand in full uniform. Conical 
bullets hang as trinkets from watch-chains, and piled muskets 
form candelabra. The metal in fashion is iron. The word 
in fashion is also iron. The present occupation of this 
nation of philosophers and poets is assuredly not poetry- 
writing and philosophising. Even highly cultured Germans 
know little about philosophy now-a-days — not one German 
student in twenty has read a word of Hegel ; interest in 
poetry, as such, is practically dead ; political and social ques- 
tions rouse a hundred times more attention than problems 
of culture or psychical conundrums. 

And this is the people which once was lost in Romantic 
reveries and speculations, and saw its prototype in Hamlet 1 
Hamlet and Bismarck 1 Bismarck and Romanticism ! Un- 

17 



! 



1 8 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

questionably the great German statesman succeeded in carry- 
ing all Germany with him chiefly because he offered to his 
country in his own person the very qualities of which it 
had so long felt the want. Through him politics have been 
substituted for aesthetics. Germany has been united ; the 
military monarchy has swallowed up the small States, and 
with them all their feudal idylls; Prussia has become the 
Piedmont of Germany, and has impressed its orderly and 
practical spirit upon the new empire; and simultaneously 
with this, natural science has supplanted or metamorphosed 
philosophy, and the idea of nationality has superseded or 
modified the " humanity " ideal. The War of Liberation of 
1 813 was pre-eminently a result of enthusiasm ; the victories 
of 1870 were pre-eminently a result of the most careful 
calculation. 

The idea which is the guiding star of the new Germany 
is the idea of organising itself as a whole. It pervades both 
life and literature. The expression " In Reih* und Glied " — 
In Ordered Ranks— (the title of a novel by Spielhagen) might 
be the universal watchword. The national aim is to gather 
together that which has been scattered, to diffuse the culture 
which has been the possession of too few, to found a great 
state, a great society ; and it is required of the individual 
that he shall sacrifice his individuality for the sake of adding 
to the power of the whole, of the mass. The power of the 
mass ! This idea may be traced in all the most remarkable 
phenomena of the age. Belief in it underlies the calcula- 
tions of Bismarck, the agitation of Lassalle, the tactics of 
Moltke, and the music of Wagner. A desire to educate the 
people and unite them in a common aim is the mainspring of 
the literary activity of the prose authors of the period. A 
common feature of all the works which most clearly reflect 
the times is that they keep to the subject, to the matter in 
hand. The influence of the great idea, " the power of the 
mass," makes itself felt here too. In the new literature the 
relation of the individual to the State, the sacrifice of per- 
sonal volition and originality entailed by the yoking of the 
Ego to the State chariot, presents itself in marked contrast 
to the Romanticist worship of the talented individual with 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 19 

all his peculiarities, and the Romanticist indifference to every- 
thing historical and political. Romantic literature was always 
pre-eminently drawing-room literature, the ideal of Romanti- 
cism being intellectual society and aesthetic tea-parties {vide 
the conversations in Tieck's Fantasus). 

How different everything was in. those old days ! In both 
life and literature the detached Ego, in its homeless inde- 
pendence, is omnipresent. The guiding star here is, indeed, 
nought else but the free, unhistorical Ego. The country is 
divided into a multitude of small States, ruled by three 
hundred sovereigns and fifteen hundred semi-sovereigns. 
In these States the so-called " enlightened " despotism of the 
eighteenth century prevails, with its narrow, petrified social 
conditions and relations. The nobleman is lord and master 
of his serfs, the father, lord and master of his family — every- 
where stern justice, but no equity. There are in reality no 
great tasks for the individual, hence there is no room for 
genius. The theatre is the only place where those who are \ 
not of princely birth can gain any experience of all the mani- 
fold phases of human life, hence the stage mania of literature. 
Lacking any social field in which to work, all activity neces- 
sarily takes the form either of war with reality or flight from 
it. Flight is prepared for by the influence of the rediscovered 
antique and of Winckelmann's writings; war, by the influ- 
ence of the sentimentally melancholy English writers (Young, 
Sterne) and of Rousseau, reverenced as the apostle of nature, 
who, as Schiller expressed it, " would fain out of Christians 
make men." 

Our first proceeding must be to trace the rising of this star, 
the genesis of this free, Romantic Ego, to whom, be it remem- 
bered, all the greatest intellects of Germany stood sponsor. 

It was Lessing who laid the foundations of the intellec- 
tual life of modern Germany. Clear of thought, strong of 
will, indefatigably active, he was a reformer in every matter 
in which he interested himself. With perfect consciousness 
of what he was doing, he enlightened and educated the German 
mind. He was the embodiment of manly independence and 
vigorous, tireless militancy. His personal ideal, as it is re- 
vealed in his life and writings, was proud independence in com- 



20 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

bination with a wise love of his fellow-men, which overcame 
all differences of creed. Hence, solitary as he stood in his 
own day, his Ego became a source of light. He was the 
"Prometheus of German prose." His great achievement 
was that of freeing German culture for all time from the 
swaddling bands of theology, as Luther had freed it from 
those of Catholicism. His life and his criticism wer e action, 
and to him the essence of poetry too was action. All his 
characters are instinct with dramatic passioril ITT opposition 
to the theological doctrine of punishment and reward, he 
maintained that to do right for the sake of doing right is the 
highest morality. And for him the history of the world 
became the history of the education of the human race. To 
a certain extent the word " education " is employed by him 
merely as a concession to his readers, who, he knew, could 
not conceive of any development without a divine educator ; 
but, all the same, the idea of natural development is not an 
idea with which he was familiar. To him, history is the 
record of " enlightenment." The Ego to him is not nature, 
but pure mind. 

In reality, all that was best in Lessing was entirely un- 
sympathetic to the new group of Romanticists; they had 
less in common with him than with any other of the great 
German authors, Schiller not excepted. Nevertheless, it was 
natural enough that they should refuse to acknowledge any 
connection between Lessing and those of his disciples (men 
such as Nicolai, Engel, Garve, and Schtitz), who were, from 
the "enlightenment" standpoint, their bitter enemies and 
ruthless persecutors. This was done by Friedrich Schlegel 
in an essay in which, while praising the power and the width 
of Lessing's grasp, he lays chief stress upon everything in 
him that is irregular, boldly revolutionary, unsystematic, 
and paradoxical, dwells on his bellicose wit, and draws 
attention to everything that can be construed into cynicism. 
The Romanticists could not possibly claim a champion of 
reason, pure and simple, as their forerunner, hence they 
attempted to characterise the nutritive element in Lessing's 
works as mere seasoning, as the salt which preserves from 
corruption. 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 21 

They owed far more to Herder. They evidence their 
descent from him both by their continuation of the Sturm 
und Drang period and by their capacity of understanding 
and reproducing the poetry of all countries. In Herder the 
new century germinated, as in Lessing the old had come to 
its close. Herder sets genesis and growth above thought 
and action. To him the true man is not only a thinking 
and moral being, but a portion of nature. He loves and 
sets most store by the original ; he prefers intuition to reason, 
and would overcome narrow-mindedness, not by reason, but 
by originality. The man of intuitions is to him the most 
human. His own genius was the genius of receptivity. 
He expanded his Ego until it comprehended every kind of 
originality, but it was by virtue of feeling that he com- 
prehended, that he absorbed into his soul a wealth of life, 
human and national. 

From Herder the Romanticists derive that which is most 
valuable in their literary criticism — the universal receptivity 
which finds expression in the impulse to translate and 
explain ; from him they derive the first stimulus to a 
scientific study of both European and Asiatic languages ; 
from him comes their love for what is national in both their 
own and foreign literature, their love of Spanish romance 
and of Shakespeare's plays. Herder grasped things in their 
entirety as did Goethe after him. His profound compre- 
hension of national peculiarities becomes in Goethe the 
genius's intuition of the typical in nature, and is exalted 
by Schelling under the name of "intellectual intuition." 
The objection of the Romanticists to the idea of aim 
or purpose may be traced back to Herder. His 
theory of history excluded the idea of purpose : what 
happens has a cause and is subject to laws, but cannot 
be explained by anything which has not yet happened, 
ix. by a purpose. The Romanticists transferred this 
theory into the personal, the psychical domain. To them \ 
purposelessness is another name for Romantic genius ; \ 
the man of genius lives without a definite purpose; purpose- 
lessness is idleness, and idleness is the mark and privilege 
oi the elect. In this caricature of a philosophy there is 



V* 



22 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

not much resemblance to Herder's. But he is the origi- 
nator of a new conception of genius, of the belief, 
namely, that genius is intuitive, that it consists in a certain 
power of perceiving and apprehending without any resort 
to abstract ideas. It is this conception which, with the 
Romanticists, becomes scorn of experimental methods in 
science, and approbation of extraordinary vagaries in 
art. 

Goethe was the fulfilment of all that Herder had pro- 
mised. To him man was not merely theoretically the last 
link in nature's chain ; the men in his works were them- 
selves natures; and in his scientific research he discerned 
with the eye of genius the universal laws of evolution. His 
own Ego was a microcosm, and produced the effect of such 
on the most discerning of his younger contemporaries. 
" Goethe and life are one," says Rahel. So profound was 
is insight into nature, so entirely was he a living protest 
against every supernatural belief, that he did what in him 
lay to deprive genius of its character of apparent incom- 
prehensibility and contrariety to reason, by explaining (in 
his autobiography, Wahrheit und Dichtung) his own genius, 
the most profound and universal of the age, as a natural 
product developed by circumstances — thereby creating the 
type ^Miterary criticism to -which the Romanticists were 
strongly opposed. 

From Goethe the young generation derived their theory 
of the rights and the importance of the great, free personality. 
He had always lived his own life, and had always lived it 
fully and freely. Without making any attack whatever on 
the existing conditions of society, he had remoulded, accord- 
ing to his own requirements, the social relations in which 
he found himself placed. He becomes the soul of the 
youthful and joyous court of Weimar, with the audacity 
of youth and genius drawing every one with him into a 
whirl of gaiety — fetes, picnics, skating expeditions, masque- 
rades — animated by a wild joy in nature, which is now 
"lightened," now "darkened" by love affairs of a more 
or less dubious character. Jean Paul writes to a friend that 
he can only describe the morals of Weimar to him by word 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 23 

of mouth. When we hear that even skating was a scandal 
to the worthy Philistines of that town, we are not surprised 
by' old Wieland's ill-natured remark, that the circle in 
question appeared to him to be aiming at " brutalising 
animal nature." Thus it was that the sweet, refined 
coquette, Frau von Stein, became Goethe's muse for ten 
whole years, the original of Leonore and Iphigenia ; and 
later he created a still greater scandal by taking into his 
house Christiane Vulpius (the young girl whose presence 
had become a necessity to him, and who, in spite of 
her faults, never embittered his life by making any de- 
mands upon him), and living with her for eighteen years 
before obtaining the sanction of the Church to their 
union. 

Goethe's as well as Schiller's youthful works had been 
inspired by what the Germans call the " Freigeisterei " of 
passion, its demand for freedom, its instinct of revolt. Both 
breathe one and the same spirit, the spirit of defiance. 
Goethe's Die Geschwister treats of the passion of brother 
for sister. The conclusion of Stella, in its original form, 
is a justification of bigamy ; and Jean Paul, too, in his 
Siebenk&s, treats of bigamy as a thing perfectly permissible 
in the case of a genius to whom the first tie has become 
burdensome. Gtitz represents the tragic fate of the man 
of genius who rises in revolt against a lukewarm and 
corrupt age. Schiller's Die Rduber, with its device In Tyrannos, 
and its motto from Hippocrates, "That which medicine 
cannot cure iron cures, and that which iron cannot cure 
fire cures," is a declaration of war against society. Karl 
Moor is the noble-hearted idealist, who in "the castrated 
century" is inevitably doomed to perish as a criminal. 
Schiller's robbers are not highwaymen, but revolutionaries. 
They do not plunder, but punish. They have separated 
themselves from society to revenge themselves upon it for 
the wrongs it has done them. Schiller's defiance is still 
more personally expressed in those poems of his first period 
which were written under the influence of his relations with 
Frau von Kalb, poems re-written and entirely altered in 
the later editions. In the one which ultimately received the 



24 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

title Der Kampf, but which was originally called Freigeisterei 
der Leidenschafty he writes : — 

" Woher dies Zittern, dies unnennbare Entsetzen, 
Wenn mich dein liebevoller Arm umschlang ? 
Weil Dich ein Eid, den audi nur Wallungen verletzen, 
In fremde Fesseln zwang ? 

" Weil ein Gebrauch, den die Gcsetze heilig pragen, 
Des Zufalls schwere Missethat geweiht ? 
Nein — unerschrocken trotz ich einem Bund entgegen, 
Den die errothende Natur bereut 

" O zittre nicht — Du hast als Sunderin geschworen, 
Ein Meineid ist der Reue fromme Pflicht, 
Das Hen war mein, das Du vor dem Altar verloren, 
Mit Menschenfreuden spielt der Himmel nicht 11 1 

Comical as this naive sophistry sounds, and unreliable 
as is the assurance that Heaven will not permit itself now 
and again to play with human happiness, the spirit of the 
verses is unmistakable ; and, as Hettner aptly observes, Don 
Carlos uses almost the same words : " The rights of my love 
are older than the ceremonies at the altar." 

The model for Schiller's young Queen Elizabeth was 
Charlotte von Kalb. This lady, the passion of the poet's 
youth, had been unwillingly forced into matrimony by 
her parents. She and Schiller met in 1784, and in 1788 
they were still meditating a permanent union of their 
destinies. Soon after Schiller left her, she became Jean 
Paul's mistress. (Caroline Schlegel jestingly calls her 
Jeannette Pauline.) Jean Paul characterises her thus: 
" She has two great possessions: great eyes (I never saw their 
like) and a great soul." He himself confesses that it is she 
whom he has described in one of his principal works as the 

1 Whence this trembling, this nameless horror, when thy loving arms encircle 
me ? Is it because an oath, which, remember, even a thought is sufficient to break, 
has forced strange fetters on thee ? 

Because a ceremony, which the laws have decreed to be sacred, has hallowed an 
accidental, grievous crime? Nay — fearlessly defy a covenant of which blushing 
nature repents. 

O tremble not ! — thine oath was a sin ; perjury is the sacred duty of the repentant 
sinner ; the heart thou gavest away at the altar was mine ; Heaven does not play 
with human happiness. 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 25 

Titaness, Linda. In Titan (118 Zykel) we are told of Linda 
that she must be tenderly treated, not only on account of 
her delicacy, but also in the matter of her aversion to matri- 
mony, which is extreme. She cannot even accompany a 
friend to the altar, which she calls the scaffold of woman's 
liberty, the funeral pyre of the noblest, freest love. To 
take, she says, the best possible view of it, the heroic epic 
of love is there transformed into the pastoral of marriage. 
Her sensible friend vainly insists that her aversion to 
marriage can have no other ground than her hatred of 
priests ; that wedlock only signifies everlasting love, and 
all true love regards itself as everlasting ; that there are as 
many unhappy free-love connections as marriages, if not 
more, &c. 

Frau von Kalb herself writes to Jean Paul : " Why all 
this talk about seduction ? Spare the poor creatures, I beg 
of you, and alarm their hearts and consciences no more. 
Nature is petrified enough already. I shall never change 
my opinion on this subject ; I do not understand this virtue, 
and cannot call any one blessed for its sake. Religion here 
upon earth is nothing else than the development and main- 
tenance of the powers and capacities with which our natures 
have been endowed. Man should not submit to compulsion, 
but neither should he acquiesce in wrongful renunciation. 
Let the bold, powerful, mature human nature, which knows 
and uses its strength, have its way. But in our generation 
human nature is weak and contemptible. Our laws are 
the outcome of wretchedness and dire necessity, seldom of 
wisdom. Love needs no laws." 

A vigorous mind speaks to us in this letter. The leap 
from this to the idea of Lucinde is not a long one, but the 
fall to the very vulgar elaboration of Lucinde is great. We do 
not, however, rightly understand these outbursts until we 
understand the social conditions which produced them, and 
realise that they are not isolated and accidental tirades, but 
are conditioned by the position in which the majority of 
poetic natures stood to society at that time. 

Weimar was then the headquarters and gathering-place 
of Germany's classical authors. It is not difficult to under- 



26 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

stand how they came to gather in this little capital of a little 
dukedom. Of Germany's two great monarchs, Joseph the 
Second was too much occupied with his efforts at reform, 
too eager for the spread of "enlightenment/' to have any 
attention to spare for German poetry ; and the Voltairean 
Frederick of Prussia was too French in his tastes and in- 
tellectual tendencies to take any interest in German poets. 
It was at the small courts that they were welcomed. Schiller 
lived at Mannheim, Jean Paul at Gotha, Goethe at Weimar. 
Poetry had had no stronghold in Germany for many a long 
year, but now Weimar became one. Thither Goethe sum- 
moned Herder ; Wieland had been there since 1772. Schiller 
received an appointment in the adjacent Jena. Weimar was, 
then, the place where passion, as poetical, compared with 
the prosaic conventions of society, was worshipped most reck- 
lessly and with least prejudice, in practice as well as theory. 
" Ah ! here we have women ! " cries Jean Paul when he 
comes to Weimar. "Everything is revolutionarily daring 
here ; that a woman is married signifies nothing." Wieland 
" revives himself " by taking his former mistress, Sophie von 
la Roche, into his house, and Schiller invites Frau von Kalb 
to accompany him to Paris. 

We thus understand how it was that Jean Paul, when 
in Weimar, and under the influence of Frau von Kalb's 
personality, exclaimed : u This much is certain ; the heart 
of the world is beating with a more spiritual and greater 
revolution than the political, and one quite as destructive." 

What revolution? The emancipation of feeling from 
the conventions of society ; the heart's audacious assump- 
tion of its right to regard its own code of laws as the new 
moral code, to re-cast morals in the interests of morality, 
and occasionally in the interests of inclination. The 
Weimar circle had no desire, no thought for anything 
beyond this, had neither practical nor social reforms in 
view. It is a genuinely German trait that outwardly 
they made deep obeisance to the laws which they privately 
evaded. In conversation, Goethe, in his riper years, invari- 
ably maintained that the existing conventions regulating the 
relations of the sexes were absolutely necessary in the 



THE PIOXEERS OF ROMANTICISM 27 

interests of cmHsatSon ; ar*i 5a ibfir !xxis ai^Vrs fx« 
expression to reroltitkmary sectrzerrs wincfe. wrre msre sr 
less their own, only to recant at tbe esai ct tie beet Tie 
hero either confesses his earcc, cr enr — "i** srirair , cr s 
punished for his defiance of society, or rencnoces socaerr 
altogether (Karl Moor, Wertber, Taso* I-tvUTl It as 
exactly the proceeding of the heretical arrrccs ct ^e lFn-Hr 
Ages, who concluded their books wt± a ocbee tbst cnery- 
thing in them most of coarse be in ie s peele d in kar^DOcy 
with the doctrines and decrees of Holy M ccber Onrxh. 

Into this Weimar circle of g^ted women lfa**amr de 
Sta€l, " the whirlwind in petticoats," as she has been caTfri, 
is introduced when she comes to Germany. In the midst 
of them she produces the effect of some strange wikl bcnL 
What a contrast between her aims and their predilections ! 
With them everything is personal, with her by this tinae 
everything is social. She has appeared before the public; 
she is striking doughty blows in the cause of social reform. 
For such deeds even the most advanced of these German 
women of the "enlightenment" period are of much too 
mild a strain. Her aim is to revolutionise life politically, 
theirs to make it poetical. The idea of flinging the 
gauntlet to a Napoleon would never have entered the 
mind of any one of them. What a use to make of a lady's 
glove, a pledge of love ! It is not the rights of humanity, 
but the rights of the heart which they understand ; their strife 
is not against the wrongs of life but against its prose. The 
relation of the gifted individual to society does not here, as in 
France, take the form of a conflict between the said individual's 
rebellious assertion of his liberty and the traditional com- 
pulsion of society, but of a conflict between the poetry of the 
desires of the individual and the prose of political and social 
conventions. Hence the perpetual glorification in Romantic 
literature of capacity and strength of desire, of wish ; a 
subject to which Friedrich Schlegel in particular perpetually 
recurs. It is in reality the one outwardly directed power 
that men possess — impotence itself conceived as a power. 

We find the same admiration of wish in Kierkegaard's 
Enten-ElUr (Either-Or). "The reason why Aladdin is so 
VOL. II, C 



28 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

refreshing is that we feel the childlike audacity of genius 
in its wildly fantastic wishes. How many are there in our 
day who dare really wish ? " &c. The childlike, for ever the 
childlike ! But who can wonder that wish, the mother of 
religions, the outward expression of inaction, became the 
catchword of the Romanticists ? Wish i s poetry ; society 
as it exists, prose. It is only when we judge tnem from 
this standpoint that we rightly understand even the most 
serene, most chastened works of Germany's greatest poets. 
Goethe's Tasso, with its conflict between the statesman and 
the poet (*.*. between reality and poetry), its delineation of 
the contrast between these two who complete each other, 
and are only unlike " because nature did not make one man 
of them," is, in spite of its crystalline limpidity of style and 
its keynote of resignation, a product of the self-same long 
fermentation which provides the Romantic School with all 
its fermentative matter. The theme of Wilhelm Meister is in 
reality the same. It, too, represents the gradual, slow 
reconciliation and fusion of the dreamed of ideal and the 
earthly reality. But only the greatest minds rose to this 
height ; the main body of writers of considerable, but less 
lucid intellect never got beyond the inward discord. The 
more poetry became conscious of itself as a power, the more 
the poet realised his dignity, and literature became a little 
world in itself with its own special technical interests, the 
more distinctly did the conflict with reality assume the 
subordinate form of a conflict with philistinism (see, for 
instance, Eichendorff's Krieg den Philistern). Poetry no 
longer champions the eternal rights of liberty against the 
tyranny of outward circumstances ; it champions itself as 
poetry against the prose of life. This is the Teutonic, the 
German-Scandinavian, that is to say, the narrow literary 
conception of the service that poetry is capable of rendering 
to the cause of liberty. 

" We must remember," says Kierkegaard (Begrebet Iront, 
p. 322), "that Tieck and the entire Romantic School entered, 
or believed they entered, into relations with a period in 
which men were, so to speak, petrified, in final, unalterable 
social conditions. Everything was perfected and completed, 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 29 

in a sort of divine Chinese perfection, which left no reason- 
able longing unsatisfied, no reasonable wish unfulfilled. 
The glorious principles and maxims of ' use and wont ' were 
the objects of a pious worship ; everything, including the 
absolute itself, was absolute ; men refrained from polygamy ; 
they wore peaked hats ; nothing was without its significance. 
Each man felt, with the precise degree of dignity that corre- 
sponded to his position, what he effected, the exact importance 
to himself and to the whole, of his unwearied endeavour. 
There was no frivolous indifference to punctuality in those 
days ; all ungodliness of that kind tried to insinuate itself in 
vain. Everything pursued its tranquil, ordered course ; even 
the suitor went soberly about his business ; he knew that he 
was going on a lawful errand, was taking a most serious 
step. Everything went by clockwork. Men waxed enthusi- 
astic over the beauties of nature on Midsummer Day ; were 
overwhelmed by the thought of their sins on the great fast- 
days ; fell in love when they were twenty, went to bed 
at ten o'clock. They married and devoted themselves to 
domestic and civic duties ; they brought up families ; in 
the prime of their manhood notice was taken in high 
places of their honourable and successful efforts ; they 
lived on terms of intimacy with the pastor, under whose 
eye they did the many generous deeds which they knew 
he would recount in a voice trembling with emotion when 
the day came for him to preach their funeral sermon. 
They were friends in the genuine sense of the word, em 
wirklicher Freund, wte man wirklicher Kanzleirat war** 

I fail to see anything typical in this description. Except 
that we wear round hats instead of peaked ones, every word 
of it might apply to the present day ; there is nothing 
especially indicative of one period more than another. No ; 
the distinctive feature of the period in question is the gifted 
writer's, the Romanticist's, conception of philistinism. In 
my criticism of Johan Ludvig Heiberg's first Romantic 
attempts, I wrote: "They (the Romanticists) looked upon 
it from the philosophical point of view as finality, from the 
intellectual, as narrow-mindedness ; not, like us, from the 
moral point of view, as contemptibility. With it they con- 



30 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

trasted their own infinite longing. . . . They confronted its 
prose with their own youthful poetry ; we confront its 
contemptibility with our virile will " {Samlede Skrifter, i. p. 
467). As a general rule, then, they, with their thoughts and 
longings, fled society and reality, though now and again, as 
already indicated, they attempted, if not precisely to realise 
their ideas in life, at least to sketch a possible solution of 
the problem how to transform reality in its entirety into 
poetry. 

Not that they show a spark of the indignation or 
the initiative which we find in the French Romantic 
author (George Sand, for instance) ; they merely amuse 
themselves with elaborating revolutionary, or at least 
startling fancies. 

That which Goethe had attained to, namely, the power 
of moulding his surroundings to suit his own personal re- 
quirements, was to the young generation the point of depar- 
ture. In this particular they from their youth saw the 
world from Goethe's point of view ; they made the measure 
of freedom which he had won for himself and the conditions 
which had been necessary for the full development of his 
gifts and powers, the average, or more correctly the mini- 
mum, requirement of every man with talent, no matter how 
little. They transformed the requirements of his nature 
into a universal rule, ignored the self-denial he had labori- 
ously practised and the sacrifices he had made, and not only 
proclaimed the unconditional rights of passion, but, with 
tiresome levity and pedantic lewdness, preached the emancipa- 
tion of the senses. And another influence, very different 
from that of Goethe's powerful self-assertion, also made 
itself felt, namely, the influence of Berlin. To Goethe's free, 
unrestrained humanity there was added in Berlin an ample 
alloy of the scoffing, anti-Christian spirit which had emanated 
from the court of Frederick the Great, and the licence which 
had prevailed at that of his successor. 

But both Goethe and Schiller paved the way for Roman- 
ticism not only positively, by their proclamation of the rights 
J of jDassion, but also negatively, by the conscious attitude of 
opposition to their own age which they assumed in their 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 31 

later years. In another form, the Romanticist's aversion to 
reality is already to be found in them. I adduce two 
famous instances of the astonishing lack of interest shown 
by Goethe, the greatest creative mind of the day, in 
political realities ; they prove at the same time how keen 
was his interest in science. Writing of the campaign against 
France during the French Revolution, a campaign in 
which he took part, he mentions that he spent most of 
his time in observing " various phenomena of colour and of 
personal courage." And after the battle of Jena Knebel 
writes : " Goethe has been busy with optics the whole time. 
We study osteology under his guidance, the times being well 
adapted to such study, as all the fields are covered with 
preparations." The bodies of his fallen countrymen did not 
inspire the poet with odes ; he dissected them and studied 
their bones. 

Such instances as these give us some impression of the 
attitude of aloofness which Goethe as a poet maintained to- 
wards the events of his day. But we must not overlook the 
fine side of his refusal to write patriotic war-songs during the 
struggle with Napoleon. u Would it be like me to sit in my 
room and write war-songs ? In the night bivouacs, when we 
could hear the horses of the enemy's outposts neighing, then 
I might possibly have done it. But it was not my life, that, 
and not my affair ; it was Theodor Horner's. Therefore his 
war-songs become him well. I have not a warlike nature 
nor warlike tastes, and war-songs would have been a mask 
very unbecoming to me. I have never been artificial in my 
poetry." Goethe, like his disciple Heiberg, was in this case 
led to refrain by the strong feeling that he only cared to 
write of what he had himself experienced ; but he also tells 
us that he regarded themes of a historical nature as "the 
most dangerous and most thankless." 

His ideal, and that of the whole period, is humanity 
pure and simple — a man's private life is everything. 
The tremendous conflicts of the eighteenth century and the 
"enlightenment" period are all, in consonance with the 
human idealism of the day, contained in the life story, the 
development story, of the individual. But the cult of 



32 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

humanity does not only imply lack of interest in history, 
but also a general lack of interest in the subject for its own 
sake. A In one of his letters to Goethe, Schiller writes that 
two things are to be demanded of the poet and of the artist 
— in the first place, that he shall rise above reality, and in 
the second, that he shall keep within the bounds of the 
material, the natural. He explains his meaning thus : The 
artist who lives amidst unpropitious, formless surroundings, 
and consequently ignores these surroundings in his art, 
runs the risk of altogether losing touch with the tangible, 
of becoming abstract, or, if his mind is not of a robust 
type, fantastic ; if, on the other hand, he keeps to the world 
of reality, he is apt to be too real, and, if he has little 
imagination, to copy slavishly and vulgarly." These words 
indicate, as it were, the watershed which divides the German 
literature of this period. On the one side we have the 
unnational art-poetry of Goethe and Schiller, with its con- 
tinuation in the fantasies of the Romanticists, and on the 
other side the merely sensational or entertaining literature 
of the hour (Unterhaltungslitteratur), which is based on 
reality, but a philistine reality, the literature of which 
Lafontaine's sentimental bourgeois romances, and the popular, 
prosaic family dramas of Schroder, Iffland, and Kotzebue, are 
the best known examples. It was a misfortune for German 
literature that such a division came about. But, although 
the rupture of the better literature with reality first showed 
itself in a startling form in the writings of the Romanticists, 
we must not forget that the process had begun long before. 
Kotzebue had been the antipodes of Schiller and Goethe 
before he stood in that position to the Romanticists. 
Of this we get a vivid impression from the following 
anecdote. 1 

One day in the early spring of 1802, the little town of 
Weimar was in the greatest excitement over an event which 
was the talk of high and low. It had long been apparent 
that some special festivity was in preparation. It was known 
that a very famous and highly respected man, President 

1 Goethe, Tag- und Jahreshefte, 1802 ; G. WaiU, Carolitu, ii. 207 ; GottJU- 
fahrbuch, vi. 59, && 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 33 

von Kotzebue, had applied privately to the Burgomaster 
for the use of the newly decorated Town Hall. The most 
distinguished ladies of the town had for a month past done 
nothing but order and try on fancy dresses. Fraulein von 
Imhof had given fifty gold guldens for hers. Astonished 
eyes had beheld a carver and gilder carrying a wonderful 
helmet and banner across the street in broad daylight. 
What could such things be required for? Were there to 
be theatricals at the Town Hall? It was known that 
an enormous bell mould made of pasteboard had been 
ordered. For what was it to be used? The secret soon 
came out. Some time before this, Kotzebue, famous 
throughout Europe as the author of Menschenhass und Reue, 
had returned, laden with Russian roubles and provided with 
a patent of nobility, to his native town, to make a third in 
the Goethe and Schiller alliance. He had succeeded in 
gaining admission to the court, and the next thing was to 
obtain admission to Goethe's circle, which was also a 
court, and a very exclusive one. The private society of 
intimates for whom Goethe wrote his immortal convivial 
songs (Gesellschaftslieder) met once a week at his house. 
Kotzebue had himself proposed for election by some of the 
lady members, but Goethe added an amendment to the 
rules of the society which excluded the would-be intruder, 
and prevented his even appearing occasionally as a guest. 
Kotzebue determined to revenge himself by paying homage 
to Schiller in a manner which he hoped would thoroughly 
annoy Goethe. The latter had just suppressed some thrusts 
at the brothers Schlegel in Kotzebue's play, Die Kleinst&dter, 
which was one of the pieces in the repertory of the Weimar 
theatre ; so, to damage the theatre, Kotzebue determined 
to give a grand performance in honour of Schiller at the 
Town Hall. Scenes from all his plays were to be acted, 
and finally The Bell was to be recited to an accompani- 
ment of tableaux vivants. At the close of the poem, 
Kotzebue, dressed as the master-bellfounder, was to shatter 
the pasteboard mould with a blow of his hammer, and there 
was to be disclosed, not a bell, but a bust of Schiller. The 
Kotzebue party, however, had reckoned without their host, 



34 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

that is to say, without Goethe. In all Weimar there was 
only one bust of Schiller, that which stood in the library. 
When, on the last day, a messenger was sent to borrow it, 
the unexpected answer was given, that never in the memory 
of man had a plaster cast lent for a fete been returned in 
the condition in which it had been sent, and that the loan 
must therefore be unwillingly refused. And one can imagine 
the astonishment and rage of the allies when they heard 
that the carpenters, arriving at the Town Hall with their 
boards, laths, and poles, had found the doors locked and had 
received an intimation from the Burgomaster and Council 
that, as the hall had been newly painted and decorated, they 
could not permit it to be used for such a " riotous " enter- 
tainment. 

This is only a small piece of provincial town scandal. 
But what is really remarkable, what constitutes the kernel of 
the story, is the fact that the whole company of distinguished 
ladies who had hitherto upheld the fame of Goethe (Countess 
Henriette von Egloffstein ; the beautiful lady of honour and 
poetess Amalie von Imhof, at a later period the object of 
Gentz's adoration, whose fifty gold guldens had been wasted, 
&c, &c.) took offence, and deserted his camp for that of 
Kotzebue. Even the Countess Einsiedel, whom Goethe had 
always specially distinguished, went over to the enemy. 
This shows how little real hold the higher culture had as 
yet taken even on the highest intellectual and social circles, 
and how powerful the man of letters still was who con- 
cerned himself with real life and sought his subjects in his 
surroundings. 

There had, most undoubtedly, been a time when Goethe 
and Schiller themselves were realists. To both, in their 
first stage of restless ferment, reality had been a necessity. 
Both had given free play to nature and feeling in their 
early productions, Goethe in Gd'te and fVerfher, Schiller in 
Die Railber. But after Gdtz had set the fashion of romances 
of chivalry and highway robbery, Werther of suicide, both 
in real life and in fiction, and Die RaUber of such productions 
as Abdllino, der grosse Bandit, the great writers, finding the 
reading world unable to discriminate between originals and 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 35 

imitations, withdrew from the arena. Their interest in the 
subject was lost in their interest in the form. The study 
of the antique led them to lay ever - increasing weight 
upon artistic perfection. It was not their lot to find a 
public which understood them, much less a people that 
could present them with subjects, make demands of them 
— give them orders, so to speak. The German people 
were still too undeveloped. When Goethe, at Weimar, 
was doing what he could to help Schiller, he found that 
the latter, on account of his wild life at Mannheim, his 
notoriety as a political refugee, and especially his penniless- 
ness, was regarded as a writer of most unfortunate ante- 
cedents. During the epigram war (Xenienkampf) of 1797, 
both Goethe and Schiller were uniformly treated as poets 
of doubtful talent. One of the pamphlets against them is 
dedicated to "die zwei Sudelkdche in Weimar und Jena" 
(the bunglers of Weimar and Jena). It was Napoleon's 
recognition of Goethe, his wish to see and converse with 
him, his exclamation : " Voila un homme I " which greatly 
helped to establish Goethe's reputation in Germany. A 
Prussian staff-officer, who was quartered about this time 
in the poet's house, had never heard his name. His pub- 
lisher complained bitterly of the small demand for the 
collected edition of his works ; there was a much better 
sale for those of his brother-in-law, Vulpius (author of 
Rtncddo Rinaldint). Tasso and Iphigenia could not compete 
with works of such European fame as Kotzebue's Men- 
schenhass und Reue; Goethe himself tells us that they were 
only performed in Weimar once every three or four years. 
Clearly enough it was the stupidity of the public which 
turned the great poets from the popular path to glory ; but 
it is equally clear that the new classicism, which they so 
greatly favoured, was an ever-increasing cause of their un- 
popularity. Only two of Goethe's works were distinct suc- 
cesses, Werther and Hermann und Dorothea. 

What were the proceedings of the two great poets after 
they turned their backs upon their surroundings ? Goethe 
made the story of his own strenuous intellectual develop- 
ment the subject of plastic poetic treatment. But finding 



36 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

it impossible, so long as he absorbed himself in modern 
humanity, to attain to the beautiful simplicity of the old 
Greeks, he began to purge his works of the personal ; he com- 
posed symbolical poems and allegories, wrote Die Naturliche 
Tochter, in which the characters simply bear the names of 
their callings, King, Ecclesiastic, &c. ; and the neo-classic 
studies, Achilkis, Pandora, Paheophron und Neoterpe, Epimenides, 
and the Second Part of Faust. He began to employ Greek 
mythology much as it had been employed in French classical 
literature, namely, as a universally understood meta- 
phorical language. He no longer, as in the First Part of 
\Faust, treated the individual as a type, but produced types 
irhich were supposed to be individuals. His own Iphigenia 
iras now too modern for him. Ever more marked became 
that addiction to allegory which led Thorvaldsen too away 
from life in his art. In his art criticism Goethe persistently 
maintained that it is not truth to nature, but truth to 
art which is all-important ; he preferred ideal mannerism 
(such as is to be found in his own drawings preserved 
in his house in Frankfort) to ungainly but vigorous 
naturalism. As theatrical director he acted on these same 
principles ; grandeur and dignity were everything to him. 
He upheld the conventional tragic style of Calderon and 
Alfieri, Racine and Voltaire. His actors were trained, in 
the manner of the ancients, to stand like living statues ; 
they were forbidden to turn profile or back to the 
audience, or to speak up the stage; in some plays, in 
defiance of the customs of modern mimic art, they wore 
masks. In spite of public opposition, he put A. W. Schlegel's 
Ion on the stage — a professedly original play, in reality an 
unnatural adaptation from Euripides, suggested by Iphigenia. 
Nay, he actually insisted, merely for the sake of exercising 
the actors in reciting verse, on producing Friedrich 
Schlegel's Alarkos, an utterly worthless piece, which might 
have been written by a talentless schoolboy, and was certain 
to be laughed off the stage. 1 To such an extent as this 

1 " Your opinion of Alarkos is mine ; nevertheless I think that we must dare every- 
thing, outward success or non-success being of no consequence whatever. Our gain 
seems to me to He principally in the fact that we accustom our actors to repeat, and 
ourselves to hear, this extremely accurate metre." — Goethe. 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 37 

did he gradually sacrifice everything to external artistic 
form. 

It is easy, then, to see how Goethe's one-sidedness pre- 
pared the way for that of the Romanticists ; it is not so easy 
to show that the same was the case with Schiller. Schiller's 
dramas seem like prophecies of actual events. The French 
Revolution ferments in Die R&uber (the play which procured 
for "Monsieur Gille" the title of honorary citizen of the 
French Republic), and, as Gottschall observes, "the eighteenth 
Brumaire is anticipated in Fiesko, the eloquence of the Giron- 
dists in Posa, the Caesarian soldier-spirit in IVallenstein, and 
the Wars of Liberation in Die Jungfrau von Orleans and 
WUhelm Tell." But in reality it is only in his first dramas 
that Schiller allows himself to be influenced, without second 
thought or ulterior purpose, by his theme. In all the later 
plays the competent critic at once feels how largely the 
choice of subject has been influenced by considerations of 
form. Henrik Ibsen once drew my attention to this in 
speaking of Die Jungfrau von Orleans; he maintained that 
there is no "experience" in that play, that it is not the 
result of powerful personal impressions, but is a composition. 
And Hettner has shown this to be the relation of the author 
to his work in all the later plays. From the year 1798 
onwards, Schiller's admiration for Greek tragedy led him to 
be always on the search for subjects in which the Greek idea 
of destiny prevailed. Der Ring des Polykrates, Der Toucher, and 
IVallenstein are dominated by the idea of Nemesis. Maria Stuart 
is modelled upon the (Edipus Rex of Sophocles, and this parti- 
cular historical episode is chosen with the object of having a 
theme in which the tragic end, the appointed doom, is fore- 
known, so that the drama merely gradually develops that which 
is inevitable from the beginning. The subject of the Jungfrau 
von Orleans, in appearance so romantic, is chosen because 
Schiller desired to deal with an episode in which, after the 
antique manner, a direct divine message reached the human 
soul — in which there is a direct material interposition of the 
divinity, and yet the human being who is the organ of the 
divinity can be ruined, in genuine Greek fashion, by her 
human weakness. 



38 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

It was only in keeping with his general unrealistic 
tendency that Schiller, though he was not in the least 
musical, should extol the opera at the expense of the drama, 
and maintain the antique chorus to be far more awe-inspiring 
than modern tragic dialogue. In Die Braut von Messina he 
himself produced a " destiny " tragedy, which to all intents 
and purposes is a study in the manner of Sophocles. Not 
even in Wilhelm Tell is his point of view a modern one ; on 
the contrary, it is in every particular purely Hellenic. The 
subject is not conceived dramatically, but epically. The 
individual is marked by no special characteristic. It is 
merely an accident that raises Tell above the mass and 
makes him the leader of the movement. He is, as Goethe 
says, a "sort of Demos." Hence it is not the conflict 
between two great, irreconcilable historical ideas that is 
presented in this play ; the men of Rutli have no senti- 
mental attachment to liberty; it is neither the idea of 
liberty nor the idea of country that produces the insurrec- 
tion. Private ideas and private interests, encroachments on 
family rights and rights of property, here provide the main-, 
spring of action, or rather of event, which in the other 
dramas is provided by personal or dynastic ambition. It 
is explicitly signified to us that the peasants do not aim at 
acquiring new liberties, but at maintaining old inherited 
customs. On this point I may refer the reader to Lasalle, 
who develops the same view with his usual ingenuity in the 
interesting preface to his drama, Franz von Sickingen. 

Thus, then, we see that even when Schiller, the most 
political and historical of the German poets, appears to be 
most interested in history and politics, he is dealing only 
to a limited extent with reality ; and therefore it may be 
almost considered proved, that distaste for historical and 
present reality — in other words, subjectivism and idealism — 
were the characteristics of the whole literature of that day. 

But the spirit of Herder, Goethe, and Schiller is only 
one of the motive powers of Romanticism. The other is 
the philosophy of Fichte. It was the Fichtean doctrine 
of the Ego which gave to the Romantic individuality its 
character and force. The axioms: All that is, is for us; 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 39 

What is for us can only be through us ; Everything that is, 
both natural and supernatural, exists through the activity of 
the Ego, received an entirely new interpretation when trans- 
ferred from the domain of metaphysics to that of psychology. 
All reality is contained in the Ego itself, hence the absolute 
Ego demands that the non-Ego which it posits shall be 
in harmony with it f and is itself sim ply thej nfinite striving 
to pa ss beyond its own limits. It was this conclusion of the 
""" lYtssenschaftslehre (Doctrine of Knowledge) which fired the 
young generation. By the absolute Ego they understood, 
as Fichte himself in reality did, though in a very different 
manner, not a divine being, but the thinking human being. 
And this new and intoxicating idea of the absolute freedom 
and power and self-sufficiency of the Ego, which, with the 
arbitrariness of an autocratic monarch, obliges the whole 
world to shrink into nothing before itself, is enthusiastically 
proclaimed by an absurdly arbitrary, ironical, and fantastic 
set of young geniuses, half-geniuses, and quarter-geniuses. 
The Sturm und Drang period, when the liberty men gloried 
in was the liberty of eighteenth-century •' enlightenment," 
reappeared in a more refined and idealistic form ; and the 
liberty now gloried in was nineteenth-century lawlessness. 

Fichte's doctrine of a world-positing, world-creating 
Ego was at variance with "sound human reason." This 
was one of its chief recommendations in the eyes of the 
Romanticists. The Wissenschaftslehre was sc ientific paradox, 
but to them paradox was the fine flower ot" thought. Tbfore- 
over/tEe fundamental idea of the doctrine was as radical 
as it was paradoxical. It had been evolved under the 
impression of the attempt made by the French Revolution 
to transform the whole traditional social system into a 
rational system (Vernunftstaat). The autocracy of the Ego 
was Fichte's conception of the order of the world, and 
therefore in this doctrine of the Ego the Romanticists 
believed that they possessed the lever with which they could 
lift the old world from its hir 

Jhe Romantic worship <%jmagination^ had already begun 
with Fichte. He explained the world as the result of an 
unconscious, yet to a thinker comprehensible, act of the 



II 



4 o THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

free ^ yet at the same time limite d, Ego. This act, fte maiiw 
tai ns, ^emanates from the creative "imagination. By means 
of it the world which we apprehend with the senses first 
becomes to us a real world. The whole activity of the 
human mind, then, according to Fichte, springs from the 
creative imagination ; it is the instinct which he regards as 
the central force of the active Ego. The analogy with the 
imaginative power which is so mighty in art is evident. 
But what Fichte himself failed to perceive is, that imagi- 
nation is by no means a creative, but only a transforming, 
remodelling power, since what it acts upon is only the form 
of the things conceived of, not their substance. 

Fichte says that he " does not require ' things/ and does 
not make use of them, because they prevent his self-depen- 
dence, his independence of all that is outside of himself." 
This saying is closely allied to Friedrich Schlegel's obser- 
vation, "that a really philosophic human being should be 
able to tune himself at will in the philosophical or philo- 
logical, the critical .or poetical, the historical or rhetorical, 
the ancient or modern key, as one tunes an instrument, and 
this at any time and to any pitch." 

According to the Romantic doctrine, the artistic omni- 
potence of the Ego and the arbitrariness of the poet can 
submit to no law. In this idea lies the germ of the 
notorious Romantic irony in art, the treating of everything 
as both jest and earnest, the eternal self-parody, the dis- 
turbing play with illusions alternately summoned up and 
banished, which destroys all directness of effect in many 
of the favourite works of the Romanticists. 

The Romanticist's theory of art and life thus owes its 
existence to a mingling of poetry with philosophy, a coupling 
of the poet's dreams with the student's theories ; it is a 
production of purely intellectual powers, not of any relation 
between these powers and real life. Hence the excessively 
intellectual character of Romanticism. Hence all the self- 
duplication, all the raising to higher powers, in this poetry 
about poetry and this philosophising on philosophy. 
Hence its living and moving in a higher world, a different 
nature. This too is the explanation of all the symbolism 



THE PIONEERS OP ROMANTICISM 4I 

and allegory in these half-poetical, half-philosophical works. 
A literature came into being which partook of the character 
of a religion, and ultimately joined issue with religion, and 
which owed its existence rather to a life of emotion than a 
life of intellectual productiveness. Hence we understand 
^n^ p* AW, jfofrl eqel himself says, "it was often rath er 
th e ethe rea l melody of the feelings that was lightly su g- 
ge sted than the feelings themselves that were expressed in all 
their strength and fulness ,*!' _It_ wa s not the thin gjtsgjTthat 
the author wished to communica te to the reader, but a sug- \ 
gestion of the thing. Ft is not in bright sunlight, but in ^ 
twilight or mysterious quivering moonlight, on a far horizon 
or in dreams, that we behold the figures of Romanticism. 
Hence too the Romantic dilution or diminution of the terms 
expressing what is perceived by the senses (Blitzeln, Aeugeln, 
Hinschatten), and also that interchange of the terms for the 
impressions of the different senses, which makes the imagery 
confusedly vague. In Zerbino Tieck writes of flowers : 

" Die Farbe klingt ; die Form ertont, jedwede 
Hat nach der Form und Farbe Zung* und Rede. 



Sich Farbe, Duft, Gesang Geschwister nennen." l 

The essential element in this literature is no longer the 
passion of the Sturm und Drang period, but the free play of 
fancy, an activity of the imagination which is neither re- 
strained by the laws of reason nor by the relation of feeling 
to reality/ TTieTJlffier^ intro- 

duced declare war against the laws ; ofjhought, ridicule them 
as phlfistlne. Their place is taken by caprices, conceits, 
and vagaries. Fancy determines to dispense with reality, 
but despised reality has its revenge in the unsubstantiality 
or anaemia of fancy ; fancy defies reason, but in this de- 
fiance there is an awkward contradiction; it is conscious 
and premeditatecU— reason is to be expelled by reason. 
"Seldom has any poetic school worked under such a weight 

1 "Their colours sing, their forms resound ; each, according to its form and colour 
finds voice and speech. . . • Colour, fragrance, song, proclaim themselves one 
fcmily. w 



42 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

of perpetual consciousness of its own character as did this. 
Conscious intention is the mark of its productions. 

The intellectual inheritance to which the Romanticists 
succeeded was overpoweringly great. The School came 
into existence when literature stood at its zenith in Ger- 
many. This explains the early maturity of its members ; 
their way was made ready for them. They assimilated in 
their youth an enormous amount of literary knowledge and of 
artistic technique, and thus started with an intellectual capital 
such as no other young generation in Germany had ever pos- 
sessed. They clothed their first thoughts in the language of 
Goethe, Schiller, and Shakespeare, and, beginning thus, pro- 
ceeded to create what Goethe called " tl ^ period of forced 
talents." For the study of real human character and the 
execution of definite artistic ideas they substituted the high- 
handedness of turbulent fancy. Common to all the very 
dissimilar endeavours and productions of the Romanticists — 
to Wackenroder's Klosterbruder, with its spiritual enthusiasm 
for art and ideal beauty, to Lucinde, with its sensual worship 
of the flesh, to Tieck's melancholy romances and tales, in 
which capricious fate makes sport of man, and to Tieck's 
dramas and Hoffmann's stories, in which all form is lost 
and its place supplied by the caprices and arabesques of 
whimsical fancy — common to them all, is that law-defying 
self-assertion or assertion of the absolutism of the individual, 
\ which is a result of war with narrowing prose, of the urgent 
demand for poetry and freedom. 

The absolute independence of the Ego isolates. Never- 
theless these men soon founded a school, and after its 
speedy disintegration several interesting groups were formed. 
This is to be ascribed to their determination to make 
common cause in procuring the victory, insuring the uni- 
versal dominion, of the philosophy of life which had been 
evolved by the great minds of Germany. They desired to 
introduce this philosophy of the geniuses into life itself, to 
give it expression in criticism, in poetry, in art theories, in 
religious exhortation, in the solution of social, and even of 
political problems ; and their first step towards this was 
violent literary warfare. They were impelled partly by 



THE PIONEERS OF ROMANTICISM 43 

the necessity felt by great and strong natures to impart one 
will and one mind to a whole band of fellow-combatants, 
and partly by the inclination of men of talent, whose talent 
is attacked and contested, to confront the overwhelming 
numbers of their opponents with a small but superior 
force. In the case of the best men, the formation of a 
school or a party was the result of exactly that lack of 
state organisation which was the first condition of their 
isolating independence. The consciousness of belonging 
to a people without unity as a nation, and without col- 
lective strength, begot the endeavour to imbue the leading 
spirits of the aristocracy of intellect with a new rallying 
principle. 



VOL. II. 



II 

hOlderlin 

Outside the group which represents the transition from the 
Hellenism of Goethe and Schiller to Romanticism stands a 
solitary figure, that of Holderlin, one of the noblest and 
most refined intellects of the day. Although their contem- 
porary, he was a pioneer of the German Romanticists, in 
much the same way as Andrd Ch^nier, another Hellenist, 
was a pioneer of French Romanticism. He was educated 
with the future philosopher of the Romantic School, 
Schelling, and with Hegel, the great thinker, who came after 
Romanticism, and he was the friend of both of these, but 
had made acquaintance with none of the Romanticists 
proper when insanity put an end to his intellectual activity, 

Holderlin was born in 1770, and became insane in 1802. 
Hence, although he survived himself forty years, his life as 
an author is very little longer than Hardenberg's or Wacken- 
roder's. 

[jThat enmity to Hellenism, which to posterity appears 
one of the chief characteristics of the Romantic movement, 
was not one of its original elements. On the contrary, with 
the exception of Tieck, wha certainly had no appreciation 
of the Hellenic spirit, all the early Romanticists, but more 
especially the Schlegel brothers, Schleiermacher, and Schel- 
ling, were enthusiastic admirers of ancient Greece. It was 
their desire to enter into every feeling of humanity, and it 
was among the Greeks that they at first found humanity in 
all its fulness. They longed to break down the artificial 
social barriers of their time and escape to nature, and at 
first they found nature among the Greeks alone. To them 
the genuinely human was at the same time the genuinely 
Greek. Friedrich Schlegel, for example, embarks on his 



HOLDERLIN 45 

career with the hope of being for literature all that Winckel- 
mann has been for art. In his essays " On Diotima " and 
" On the Study of Greek Poetry," he proclaims the superi- 
ority of Greek culture and Greek poetry to all other. There 
is an indication of the later Schlegel in the attempt made to 
combat the false modesty of modern times, and to prove 
that beauty is independe nt ^* ™™-oi ionr C| mhinh [ n no way 
concern art. Characteristic also is his demonstration of 
Aristotle's lack of appreciation of the Greek Naturpoesie. 

A similar but more enduring enthusiasm for ancient 
Greece was the very essence of Holderlin's being ; and 
this enthusiasm did not find its expression in studies and 
essays, but took lyric form, in prose as well as verse. Even 
as dramatist and novelist, Holderlin was the gifted lyric poet, 
that and nothing else. Haym has aptly observed of his 
romances : " Joy in the ideal, the collapse of the ideal, and 
grief over that collapse, constitute the theme which the 
Letters of Hyperion develop with a force which never 
weakens and a fervour which is always alike intense. • . . 
It is the irretrievable that is the cause of his suffering." And 
since the ideal was embodied for him in Greek life, such as / 
he dreamed it to have been, his whole literary production 
is one longing lament over lost Hellas. Nothing could 
be less Greek or more Romantic than this longing ; it is of 
exactly the same exaggerated character as Schack Staffeldt's 
enthusiasm for ancient Scandinavia and Wackenroder's devo- 
tion to German antiquity. Holderlin's landscapes are as 
un-Greek as his modern Greeks in Hyptrinn, who are noble 
German enthusiasts, strongly influenced by Schiller. We 
cannot doubt that he was aware of this himself. But the lot 
of the solitary chosen spirits in Germany seemed to him a 
terrible one. Although he shows himself in his poems to 
be an ardent patriot, and although he sings the charms of 
romantic Heidelberg in antique strophes, yet Germany and 
Greece to him represent barbarism and culture. Con- 
cerning his own position to the Greeks he writes to 
his brother: "In spite of all my good-will, I too, in all 
that I do and think, merely stumble along in the 
track of these unique beings ; and am often the more 



46 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

awkward and foolish in deed and word because, like the 
geese, I stand flat-footed in the water of modernity, im-" 
potently endeavouring to wing my flight upward towards 
the Greek heaven." And at the close of Hyperion he says of 
the Germans : " They have been barbarians from time imme- 
morial, and industry, science, even religion itself, has only 
made them still more barbarous, incapable of every divine 
feeling, too utterly depraved to enjoy the happiness con- 
ferred by the Graces. With their extravagances and their 
pettinesses, they are insupportable to every rightly constituted 
mind, dead and discordant as the fragments of a broken vase." 
Of German poets and artists he writes, that they present a 
distressing spectacle. u They live in the world like strangers 
in their own house . . . they- grow up full of love and life 
and hope, and twenty years later one sees them wandering 
about like shadows, silent and cold." 

Therefore Holderlin rejoices over the victories of the 
\/ French, over the ''gigantic strides of the Republic," scoffs 
at all "the petty trickeries of political and ecclesiastical 
Wurtemberg and Germany and Europe," derides the " nar- 
row-minded domesticity " of the Germans, and bewails their 
lack of any feeling of common honour and common pro- 
perty. "I cannot," he exclaims, "imagine a people more 
torn asunder than are the Germans. You see artisans, but 
not men, philosophers, but not men, priests, but not men, 
servants and masters, young and old, but not men." 

The conception of the State which we find in Hyperion is 
also quite in harmony with the spirit of the age, and quite 
un-Hellenic. " The State dare not demand what it cannot 
take by force. But what love and intellect give cannot be 
taken by force. It must keep its hands off that, else we 
will take its laws and pillory them ! Good God ! They 
who would make the State a school of morals do not know 
what a crime they are committing. The State has always 
become a hell when man has tried to make it his heaven." 

Utterly un-Greek, wholly Romantic, is the love which 
Hyperion cherishes for his Diotima. It is the same deep 
and tragic feeling which bound Holderlin, the poor tutor, 
to the mother of his pupils, Frau Susette Gontard, and 



HOLDERLIN 47 

determined his fate. No Greek ever spoke of the woman he 
loved with the religious adoration which Holderlin expresses 
for his " fair Grecian." " Dear friend, there is a being upon 
this earth in whom my spirit can and will repose for untold 
centuries, and then still feel how puerile, face to face with 
nature, all our thought and understanding is." And exactly 
the same Romantic, Petrarchian note is struck by Hyperion 
when he speaks of Diotima. Diotima is "the one thing 
desired by Hyperion's soul, the perfection which we imagine 
to exist beyond the stars." She is beauty itself, the incarna- 
tion of the ideal. Love is to him religion, and his religion 
is love of beauty. Beauty is the highest, the absolute ideal ; 
it belongs, as a conception, to the world of reason, and as 
a symbol, to the world of imagination. From his aesthetic 
point of view, Holderlin does not perceive that boundary 
line drawn by Kant between the domains of reason and 
imagination. His theory, a species of poetic - philosophic 
ecstasy, having points in common with both Schiller's 
Hellenism and Schelling's transcendental idealism, is Roman- 
tic before the days of Romanticism. 

Germinating Romanticism is also to be traced in the 
gleam of Christian feeling which tinges his half-modern 
pantheism. He had been originally destined for the Church, 
and had suffered much from the severe discipline of the 
monastery where he was educated. In spite, however, of 
the many evidences of a pious disposition which we find in 
his letters, he was a pagan in his poems. He disliked priests, 
and steadily withstood his family's desire that he should 
become one. In his Empedokles we come upon the following 
significant reply of the hero to the priest Hermokrates ; — 

" Du weisst es ja, ich hab es dir bedeutet, 
Ich kenne dich und deine schlimme Zunft. 
Und lange war's ein Rathsel mir, wie euch 
In ihrem Runde duldet die Natur. 
Ach, als ich noch ein Knabe war, da mied 
Euch Allverderber schon mein frommes Hen, 
Das unbestechbar, innig liebend hing 
An Sonn' und Aether und den Boten alien 
Der grossen ferngeahndeten Natur ; 
Denn wohl hab ich's gefuhlt in meiner Furcht, 



48 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Dass ihr des Herzens freie Gtitterliebe 
Bereden mochtet zu gemeinem Dienst, 
Und dass ich's treiben sollte so, wie ihr. 
Hinweg ! ich kann vor mir den Mann nicht sehn, 
Der Gtittliches wie ein Gewerbe treibt, 
Sein Angesicht ist falsch und kalt und todt, 
Wie seine Gotter sind." l 

There is not a trace in Holderlin of the sanctimonious 
piety developed by the .other^RonaanticilstSy. wfio^ to begin 
with, were far more decided free-thinkers than he. Yet 
his Hellenism is not pagan in the manner of Schiller's 
and Goethe's, /here is a fervency in it which is akin to 
Christian devotion ; his poetic prayers to the sun, the 
earth, and the air are those of a believer ; and when, as 
in Empedokles, he handles a purely pagan subject, the spirit 
of the treatment is such that we feel (as we do in a later 
work, Kleist's Amphitryon) the Christian legend behind the 
heathen. The position of Empedokles to the Pharisees of 
his day and country is exactly that of Jesus to the Pharisees 
of Judea. Empedokles, like Jesus, is the great prophet, 
and both his willing sacrificial death and the worship of 
which he is the object awake feelings which remotely re- 
semble those of the devout Christian. 

In Holderlin we find in outline, light and delicate as if 
traced by a spirit, symbols and emotions which the Romantic 
School develops, exaggerates, caricatures, or simply obliterates. 

1 " Tis nothing new ; this I have told you oft ; 
I know you well, you and your evil kind. 
And long it was a mystery to me 
How Nature could endure you in her realm. 
Corrupters of mankind ! Even as a child, 
My guileless heart shrank from you with distrust — 
That honest, fervent heart, that loved the sun, 
The cool fresh air, and all the messengers 
Of Nature, dimly discerned and great. 
For even then I timidly perceived 
How ye would take our true love of the gods 
And make it serve some baser, selfish end — 
And that in this ye would that I should follow you. 
Begone ! I cannot look upon the man 
Who practises religion as a trade ; 
His countenance is false and cold and dead, 
As are his gods." 



Ill 

A. W. SCHLEGEL 

In 1797, August Wilhelm Schlegel, then aged thirty, published 
the first volume of his translation of Shakespeare. Rough 
drafts of several of the plays in this edition have been found, 
and these faded, dusty manuscripts not only enable us to 
follow the persevering, talented translator in his self-imposed 
task, but, when carefully read, give us direct insight into his 
and his wife's spiritual life, and indeed into the intellectual 
life of the whole period. 1 

Even apparently insignificant details are suggestive. 
The manuscripts are not always in A. W. Schlegel's hand- 
writing. He set to work upon Romeo and Juliet in the winter 
of 1795-96; in 1796 he married Caroline Bohmer ; and 
we have a complete copy of the first rough draft of the play 
in Caroline's handwriting, with corrections in Schlegel's. In 
September 1797, as her letters show, she copied As You Like 
It from an almost illegible manuscript. And she was more 
than a mere copyist. She collaborated with Schlegel in his 
essay on Romeo and Juliet, which ranks next to Goethe's dis- 
quisitions on Hamlet in VUhelm Meister as the best Shakespeare 
criticism produced in Germany up to that time. We re- 
cognise her now and again in some outburst of womanly 
feeling, or in a greater freedom of style than we are accus- 
tomed to in Schlegel. She had a far truer understanding 
than her contemporaries of the full significance of a work, 
the aim of which was the incorporation of Shakespeare in his 
unalloyed entirety into German literature. But her interest 
in the work and the labourer did not, as the manuscripts 
show us, survive the first year of her married life. 
At first it is her handwriting which predominates, and, 

1 M. Bernays : Zur EntstthungsgeschichU dcs Schlegtlsckm Shakespeare. 



50 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

though it is less frequently to be seen alongside of her 
husband's in the manuscripts of those plays with which he 
was occupied during the years 1797-98, her collaboration 
is still apparent. We find the last traces of her pen in the 
manuscript of the Merchant of Venice, which dates from the 
autumn of 1798. In October of that year, Schelling joined 
the Romanticist circle in Jena. Thenceforward no more of 
Caroline's handwriting is discoverable. 

Among the manuscripts in question, two give us a 
very distinct idea of the progress of Schlegel's intellectual 
development. They are two different texts of the Mid- 
summer Night's Dream. 

Before A. W. Schlegel's time no one in Germany, or 
elsewhere, had attempted to translate Shakespeare line for 
line. The two tame prose translations by Wieland and 
Eschenburg were, in fact, all that existed. As a student in 
Gottingen, Schlegel made the first attempt to reproduce in 
German verse parts of the Midsummer Night's Dream. From 
childhood he had been " an indefatigable verse-maker." His 
talent was obviously inherited. Half a century before he 
and his brother made their appearance, two brothers 
Schlegel had made a name for themselves in literature — 
Johann Elias, who lived for many years in Copenhagen, 
was a friend of Holberg, and, in everything connected 
with the stage, a forerunner of Lessing, and Johann Adolph, 
father of August Wilhelm and Friedrich, who, without much 
originality, possessed decided linguistic and plastic talent. 

As a young student, August Wilhelm, already distinguished 
by his impressionableness as a stylist and opinionativeness 
as an author, ardently desired to make the acquaintance of 
Burger, who was leading a lonely and unhappy life as pro- 
fessor at the University of Gottingen. Burger's fame as a poet 
procured him no consideration in a place where learning 
alone was valued ; his social position had, moreover, been 
injured by the discovery of his relations with his wife's sister. 
With the feelings of an exile, he warmly welcomed the dis- 
tinguished and talented young disciple, whose taste was 
more correct and whose stores of knowledge were better 
ordered than his own. At this time Burger was still con- 



A. W. SCHLEGEL 51 

sidered to be Germany's best lyric poet and most accom- 
plished versifier. Schlegel placed himself under his tuition, 
and learned all his linguistic and metrical devices, all the 
methods of producing artistic effects by careful choice and 
arrangement of words and use of rhythm and metres. 
With his natural gift of imitation, he appropriated as many 
of Burger's characteristics as were at all compatible with 
his entirely different temperament. His poem Ariadne 
might have been written by Burger. Burger had been 
particularly successful in the sonnet, a form of poetry 
which had lately come into vogue in Germany. So closely 
did the pupil follow in the footsteps of his master, that 
when, many years later, a complete edition of Schlegel's 
works was published, two of Burger's sonnets were acci- 
dentally included among them. 

The master did homage to his remarkably promising 
pupil in a fine sonnet, beginning : — 

u Jungcr Aar, dcin koniglicher Flog 
Wird den Druck dcr Wolken uberwinden, 
Wird die Bahn zum Sonnentempel finden, 
Oder PodDus* Wort in mir ist Log," l 

and ending with the charmingly modest lines : — 

" Dich zum Dienst des Sonnengotts zo kronen 
Hielt ich nicht den eignen Krani zo wert, 
Doch— dir ist ein besserer beschert." f 

Schlegel responded with a criticism of Burger's frigidly 
grand Das hohe Lied von der Einzigen, which he praises as a 
magnificent epic. In collaboration with Burger he now 
began a translation of the Midsummer Nights Dream, of 
which he did the greater part, Burger merely revising. He 
was still completely under his master's influence ; the manu- 
scripts show that he always accepted Burger's corrections 
and deferred to his predilection for sonority and vigour. As 

1 "In thy kingly flight, young eagle, thou wilt pierce the thickness of the donas, 
and find the way to the temple of the sun-god— else his word, spoken through me. 
ismlsc* ^ 

1 •• I held not my own wreath too precious to crown thee with it to the service of 
Apollo ; but—* better is thy destiny.** 



/ 



52 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a translator, Burger took no pains to reproduce Shake- 
speare's peculiarities as closely as possible; he only mani- 
fested his own peculiarities, by making all the coarse, 
wanton speeches, and the passages in which misguided 
passions run riot, as prominent as possible ; he emphasised 
and exaggerated everything that appealed to his own liking 
for a coarse jest, and destroyed the magic of the light and 
tender passages. In spite of his own great and natural love 
of refinement, youngi Schlegel strove in this matter also to 
follow in his masters steps, with the result that he was 
not infrequently coarse and awkward where he meant to be 
natural and vigorous. 

A better guide would have been Herder, who, long before 
this, in the fragments of Shakespeare plays in his Stitnmen 
der Vslker, had given an example of the right method 
of translating from English into German. If Schlegel had 
taken lessons from Herder in Shakespeare-translating, he 
would never have rendered five-footed iambics by Alexan- 
drines, nor changed the metre of the fairy-songs. No one 
had realised the inadequacy of Wieland's translation more 
clearly than Herder. And now the spirit in which the latter 
aimed at Germanising Shakespeare descended upon Schlegel, 
who, in spite of the faults of his first attempts, soon surpassed 
Herder himself. 

He was not Jong. in shaking himself free from Burger's 
influence. To Burger the highest function of art was to 
be national and popular. In 1791, Schlegel, now no longer 
in Burger's vicinity, but a tutor in Amsterdam, devoted 
much attention to the works of Schiller. His poetical 
attempts were henceforth more in the style of that master ; 
he wrote a sympathetic criticism of Die Kiinstler; and he was 
led to a higher conception of art by the perusal of Schiller's 
aesthetic writings. His metrical style began to acquire greater 
dignity. But Schiller was almost as incapable as Burger of 
developing in Schlegel a true and full understanding of Shake- 
speare — Schiller, who, in his translation of Macbeth, had trans- 
formed the witches into Greek Furies, and changed the Porter's 
coarsely jovial monologue into an edifying song. If Burger's 
realism was one danger, Schiller's pomposity was another. 



A, W.. SCHLEGEL 53 

But at the same time that Schiller enlightened Schlegel 
as to the high significance of art, the newly-published Col- 
lected Works of Goethe, whom he only now began to appre- 
ciate, stimulated his natural inclination to study, interpret, 
and make poetical translations. As already mentioned, this 
first edition of ^Goethe's collected, works met with but a popr 
reception. The chief reason of this was that the public, 
understanding nothing of the poet's mental development, had 
expected new works in the style of Weriher or G6tz. But 
to Schlegel's critical intellect, Goethe's wonderful many- 
sidedness was now revealed. He understood and appre- 
ciated the artist's capacity of forgetting himself for the 
moment, of surrendering himself entirely to the influence of 
his subject, which in Goethe's case produced forms that were 
never arbitrarily chosen, but invariably demanded by the 
theme. He understood that he himself, as a poetical trans- 
lator, must practise the same self-abnegation and develop a 
similar capacity of intellectual re-creation. Two things were 
required of the translator, a feminine susceptibility to the 
subtlest characteristics of the foreign original, and masculine 
capacity to re-create with the impression of the whole in his 
mind ; and both of these requirements were to be found in 
Goethe ; for his nature was multiplicity, his name " Legion," 
his spirit Protean. 

There still remained the technical, linguistic difficulties to 
overcome ; and in this, above all, Goethe was an epoch- 
making model. He had remoulded the German language. In 
passing through his hands it had gained so greatly in pliability 
and compass, had acquired such wealth of expression both in 
the grand and the graceful style, that it offered Schlegel 
exactly the well-tuned instrument of which he stood in need. 
While under Burger's influence he had looked upon technical 
perfection as a purely external quality, which could be 
acquired by indefatigable polishing ; he now realised that 
perfect technique has an inward origin, that it is in reality 
the unity of style which is conditioned by the general 
cast of a mind. And he began to see that his life task 
was a double one, namely, to reproduce the masterpieces of 
foreign races in \he German language, and to interpret 



54 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

critically for his countrymen the best literary productions - 
both of Germany and other lands. 

Now, too, Schlegel acquired a quite new understanding 
of Fichte, the friend and brother-in-arms whom the Roman- 
ticists had so quickly won for their cause. He realised that 
Fichte's doctrine of the Ego contained in extremely abstract 
terms the idea of the unlimited capacity of the human mind 
to find itself in everything and to find everything in itself. 
Round this powerful fundamental thought of Fichte's, August 
Wilhelm's pliable mind twined itself. 

At this time he was much influenced by the correspon- 
dence which he kept up regularly with his younger brother. 
Friedrich had been drawn by August Wilhelm into the 
stream of the new literary movement, and his militant dis- 
position made him the most reckless champion of the new 
principles as soon as he felt assured of their truth. The 
brothers had very different characters. The elder, in 
spite of the audacity of his literary views, had the better 
regulated mind. He had early developed a sense of form 
and of beauty. His chief gift was a capacity for moulding 
language ; and accuracy, dexterity, and the sense of pro- 
portion were qualities he was born with. Except in cases 
of strong provocation, he showed moderation in scientific 
and artistic controversy ; he knew comparatively early what 
he desired and what he was capable of ; and his determina- 
tion and perseverance made him a successful pioneer of the 
ideas and principles of which he had chosen to make himself 
the spokesman. He became the founder of the Romantic 
School, an achievement for which he possessed every qualifi- 
cation — this man whom his brother jestingly called "the 
divine schoolmaster " or " the schoolmaster of the universe." 

Friedrich Schlegel was the more restless spirit, the 
genuine sect-founder. He himself tells us, in one of his letters, 
that it was his life-long desire " not only to preach and dispute 
like Luther, but also, like Mohammed, to subjugate the spiritual 
realms of the earth with the flaming sword of the word." 
He did not lack initiative, and abounded in plans so colossal 
that there was a jarring disproportion between them and his 
ability to carry them out. Eternally wavering, without tena- 



A. W. SCHLEGEL 55 

city or fundamental conviction, fragmentary in the extreme, 
but rich in both suggestive and disconcerting ideas and 
in witty conceits, he was constantly beset by the tempta- 
tion to silence his opponents with mysterious terminology, 
and constantly liable to relapse into platitudes and meaning- 
less verbiage. What Novalis once wrote to him was more 
correct than any one suspected : " The King of Thule, dear 
Schlegel, was your progenitor ; you are related to ruin." 
As a critic, he was more impulsive and less impartial than 
August Wilhelm ; as a poet, he was only once or twice in 
his life genuinely natural, and in his Alarkos he plunged 
into an abyss of bathos into which his brother, with 
his more correct taste, could never have fallen* The elder 
brother had started the younger in his literary career ; the 
younger now drove the elder onward, and in the process put 
an end, by his unamiability, to the latter's friendly relations 
with Schiller, and, ultimately, even to his valued and long 
maintained friendship with Goethe. 

August Wilhelm now put his translation of Shakespeare 
aside for a time, and turned his attention to the poets of the 
South. He experimented in all directions, translated frag- 
ments of Homer, of the Greek elegiac, lyric, dramatic, and 
idyllic poets, of almost all the Latin poets and many of the 
Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. At a later period he even 
translated Indian poetry, his aim being to make the German 
language a Pantheon for the divine in every tongue. He 
lingered longest over Dante, although he did not possess 
the mastery of form required to render the terza rima; he 
rhymed only two lines of each triplet, thus altering the 
character of the verse and doing away with the intertwining 
of the stanzas. 

After this he turned to Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, 
sending fragments of his translations to Friedrich, who 
showed them to Caroline. Her judgment was favourable 
on the whole, but she found fault with the style as being 
rather antiquated; this she ascribed to Wilhelm's having 
been lately employed in translating Dante, his ear having 
thereby become accustomed to obsolete words and expres- 
sions. The fact was, that shortly before this he har* 



56 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

awakened to the necessity of being on his guard against the 
elaborate polish which he had made his aim after giving up 
Burger's style ; he now fell into the other extreme, became 
archaic, rugged, and hard. 

In 1797 Schlegel sent the first samples of Romeo and 
Juliet to Schiller. They were printed in Die Horen; and 
in the same periodical there presently also appeared his 
essay, Etwas fiber William Shakespeare bei Gelegenheit 
Wilhelm Meisters. In Wilhelm Meister Goethe had proclaimed 
the endeavour to understand Shakespeare to be an important 
element in German culture. In its conversations on Hamlet 
he had refuted the foolish theory that the great dramatist 
was an uncultivated natural genius, destitute of artistic 
consciousness. Had such been the case, the exact re- 
production of his style would not have been a matter of 
vital importance in a German translation. But with so great 
an artist as the Shakespeare presented to us in Wilhelm 
Meister, it was plain that the harmony between subject and 
form must not be deranged. And yet even Goethe himself 
had, without any feeling of unsuitability, given his quota- 
tions from Hamlet in the old prose translation ; even he 
had not realised how inseparably matter and manner are 
connected. 

Slowly and laboriously Schlegel progresses. His judg- 
ment is still so defective that he fancies it impossible to 
dispense with Alexandrines ; in Romeo and Juliet, he retains 
the five-footed iambics only " as far as possible " ; the 
scene between Romeo and Friar Laurence he renders in 
Alexandrines, excusing himself with the remark that this 
metre is less detrimental in speeches garnished with maxims 
and descriptions than in the dialogue proper of the drama. 
The result is the loss of Romeo's lyric fervour. 

He feels this himself, and with iron industry and deter- 
mined enthusiasm sets to work again, rejects the Alexandrines, 
and compels himself, in spite of the verbosity of the German 
language, to say in ten or eleven syllables what he had said 
before in twelve or thirteen. For long it appears to him 
an impossible task to reproduce each line by one line. 
T he translation swells in his hands as it did in Burger's. 



A. W. SCHLEGEL 57 

Fourteen English lines become nineteen or twenty German. 
It seems to him that it is impossible to do with less ; until 
at last he gains true insight, and sees, from the very founda- 
tion, how Shakespeare raises the edifice of his art. Now he 
renounces all amplitude and all redundancy that is not in 
Shakespeare. Each line is rendered by a single line. He 
curses and bewails the prolixity and inadequacy of German : 
his language has such different limits, such different turns 
of expression from the English language ; he cannot repro- 
duce Shakespeare's style ; what he produces is a stammer, a 
stutter, without resonance or fire — but he coerces himself, he 
coerces the language, and produces his translation. 

There is no great exaggeration in Scherer's dictum: 
"Schlegel's Shakespeare takes its place beside the works 
given to the world by Goethe and Schiller during the period 
when they worked in fellowship; there is the inevitable 
distance between reproductive and productive art, but there 
is the nearness of the perfect to the perfect." 

Having acquired complete mastery of the style, Schlegel 
now began to reap the fruits of his labour. He, the master, 
opened his hand, and between the years 1797 and 1801 let 
fall from it into the lap of the German people sixteen of 
Shakespeare's dramas, which, in spite of occasional tameness 
or constraint of style, might, in their new form, have been 
the work of a German poet of Shakespeare's rank. 

Let us consider what this really means. It means not 
much less than that Shakespeare, as well as Schiller and 
Goethe, saw the light in Germany in the middle of last 
century. He was born in England in 1564 ; he was born 
again, in his German translator, in 1767. Romeo and Juliet 
was published in London in 1597 ; it reappeared in Berlin 
as a new work in 1797. 

When Shakespeare thus returned to life in Germany, he 
acted with full force upon a public which was in several 
ways more capable of understanding him than his original 
public, though it was spiritually less akin to him and though 
they were not the battles of its day which he fought. He 
now began to feed the millions who did not understand 
English with his spiritual bread. Not until now did Central 



58 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

and Northern Europe discover him. Not until now did the 
whole Germanic-Gothic world become his public. 

But we have also seen how much went to the production 
of an apparently unpretending literary work of this high 
rank. In its rough drafts and manuscripts we may read 
great part of the intellectual history of a whole generation. 
Before it could come into existence nothing less was required 
than that Lessing's criticism and Wieland's and Eschen- 
burg's attempts should prepare the soil, and that a genius 
like Herder should concentrate in himself all the receptivity 
and ingenuity of surmise belonging to the German mind, and 
should, with the imperiousness characteristic of him, oblige 
young Goethe to become his disciple. But Goethe in his 
prose Gdtz only imitated a prose Shakespeare. There had to 
be born a man with the unique talent of A. W. Schlegel, 
and he, with his hereditary linguistic and stylistic ability, had 
to be placed in a position to acquire the greatest technical 
perfection of the period. Then he had to free himself, by 
the influence of Schiller's noble conception of art, from the 
tendency to coarseness which was the result of Burger's 
influence, and at the same time to steer clear of Schiller's 
tendency to pomposity and dislike of wanton joviality, 
had to gain a complete understanding of Goethe, to enter 
into possession, as it were, of the language which Goethe had 
developed, and to attain to an even clearer conviction than 
his of the essentiality of the harmony of subject and style 
in Shakespeare. It was necessary, too, that he should be 
stimulated by the ardour of a kindred talent and assisted 
by the keen criticism of a woman. Hundreds of sources 
had to flow into each other, hundreds of circumstances to 
coincide, of people to make each other's acquaintance, of 
minds to meet and fertilise each other, before this work, in 
its modest perfection, could be given to the world ; a small 
thing, the translation of a poet who had been dead for two 
hundred years, it yet provided the most precious spiritual 
nourishment for millions, and exercised a deep and lasting 
influence on German poetry. 



IV 

TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 

An apprehensive disposition, predisposing to hallucinations, 
congenital melancholy, at times verging on insanity, a clear, 
sober judgment, ever inclined to uphold the claims of 
reason, and a very unusual capacity for living in and pro- 
ducing emotional moods — such were the principal character- 
istics of Ludwig Tieck. He was the most productive author 
of the Romantic School, and, after its disruption, he wrote a 
long series of excellent novels, depicting past and present 
more realistically than Romantic writers were in the habit 
of doing. 

The son of a ropemaker, he was born in Berlin in 1773. 
Even as a school-boy he was profoundly influenced by 
classic writers like Goethe, Shakespeare, and Holberg. He 
early succeeded in imitating both Shakespeare's elfin songs 
and Ossian's melodious sadness ; but during one period of his 
youth he weakly allowed himself to be exploited by elder 
men of letters, at whose instigation he produced quantities of 
carelessly written, unwholesome literature. Though the spirit 
and tendency of his writings were prescribed for him, his 
characteristic qualities are, nevertheless, discernible even in 
these valueless early works. Under the direction of his 
teacher, Rambach, he wrote, or re-modelled in the spirit 
of the u enlightenment " period, sentimental tales of noble 
brigands, and invented gruesome episodes in the style of 
the death-scene of Franz Moor. But now and again, in 
some ironical aside, we get a glimpse of his own more 
advanced ideas. 

A little later we find the future Romanticist writing pre- 
cocious stories for the almanacs published by Nicolai, that old 
firebrand of the " enlightenment " period — stories in which 

vol. 11. » E 



60 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

superstition is held up to ridicule, and in which we only 
very occasionally come upon a touch of irony, such as the 
selection of a particularly inane old man to express con- 
tempt for " the stupid Middle Ages " and " Shakespeare's 
ghosts." No doubt Tieck wrote these compositions prin- 
cipally because he had sold his pen; still they none the less 
betray the weariness of the desponder, who is so exhausted 
by his long struggle with questions and doubts of every 
kind, that he can, without any great reluctance, side with 
those who depreciate genius and sing the praises of the sen- 
sible, bourgeois golden mean. His unsettled mental con- 
dition is shown no less clearly in his rationalistic tales than 
in the supernaturalism, the voluptuous cruelty, and the cold 
cynicism of the novels and plays dating from the begin- 
ning of the Nineties, in which he seems to give us more of 
himself. 

Tieck's first work of any importance is William LovelL 
The first part of this novel, which he wrote at the age of 
twenty, appeared in 1795. In it, when treating of art, he 
already occasionally touched the strings upon which the 
Romantic School subsequently played. 

William Lovell goes to Paris (which Tieck at that time 
had not seen), and is, of course, disgusted with everything 
there. "The town is a hideous, irregular pile of stones. 
One has the feeling of being in a great prison. . • . People 
chatter and talk all day long without so much as once 
saying what they think. ... I occasionally went to the 
theatre, simply because time hung so heavily on my hands. 
The tragedies consist of epigrams, without action or passion, 
and tirades which produce much the same effect as the words 
issuing from the mouths of the figures in old drawings. . . . 
The less natural an actor is, the more highly is he esteemed. 
In the great, world-renowned Paris Opera — I fell asleep." 
Such are the impressions made upon Lovell (an Englishman) 
by Paris at the time of the Revolution. It is nothing but an 
expression of the prevalent German contempt for the French 
character and French art, doubly unreasonable in this case 
because it has simply been learned by rote out of books. 
In the Theatre Fran£ais, however, Lovell ejaculates: "O 




LUDWIG TIECK 



TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 61 

Sophocles! O divine Shakespeare!" and he characteristically 
observes : "I hate the men who, with their little imitation sun 
(namely, reason), light up all the pleasant twilight corners and 
chase away the fascinating shadow phantoms which dwelt so 
securely under the leafy canopies. There is, undoubtedly, a 
kind of daylight in our times, but the night and morning light 
of romance were more beautiful than this grey light from a 
cloudy sky." 

With the exception of a few such touches, this work 
seems at the first glance to be distinguished by none of the 
peculiarities one is accustomed to associate with a Romantic 
production ; but, as a matter of fact, there is no book which 
reveals to us more distinctly the foundations on which the 
Romantic movement rests. The main idea and the form of 
William Lovell (it is written in letters) were both borrowed 
from a French novel, Le Paysan Perverti, by the materialistic 
writer, R6tif de la Br£tonne. The fact that we are able to 
trace the origin of a Romantic work directly to French 
materialism is not without significance ; it is in reality from 
this materialism that the Romanticists derive their gloomy 
fatalism. Lovell is an extremely tedious book to read now-a- 
days ; the style is tiresomely diffuse, the characters are as if 
lost in mist. Some of the subordinate figures, the devoted 
old man-servant, for instance, are weak imitations of Richard- 
son — there is not a trenchant trait nor a dramatic situation 
in the whole book. Its merit, which is as German as are its 
defects, lies in its psychology. The hero is a youth who is 
led, slowly and surely, to do away, as far as he himself is 
concerned, with all authority, to disregard every one of the 
traditional, accepted rules of life, until at last he is leading the 
life, not only of a confirmed egotist, but of a criminal. 

It is a mistake to feel surprised that so young a man as 
Tieck could depict such a being. Is it not precisely at this 
early age, when his spiritual eyesight does not yet enable him 
to look abroad, that the youth is constantly occupied with all 
the strange things he sees when he looks into his own heart? 
Is it not then that he is impelled to unravel himself, to examine 
his own. condition, to look at himself perpetually in the mirrr 
held out to him by his own consciousness ? W kr * 



62 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a certain disposition there is no more self-critical age than 
twenty or thereabouts. There is still so much of life before 
one then, so much time to do one's work in ; one spends the 
days in learning to know the instrument upon which one is 
to play for the rest of one's life, in tuning it, or finding out 
how it is already tuned. The time is still distant when the 
mature man will seize upon that instrument, which is himself, 
and use it — as a violin or as a sledge-hammer, according to 
the requirements of the situation. And if surrounding circum- 
stances offer neither tasks nor sustenance, and the Ego is 
obliged to go on living upon its own substance, the result will 
inevitably be the exhaustion, the demolition of the personality. 
What is peculiarly characteristic of author, tendency, and 
period, is the sentimental extravagance to which this intro- 
spection leads. In all seriousness the individual dares to 
make his fortuitous Ego, which has disorganised everything 
that established custom requires men to respect, the standard 
of everything, the source of all laws. Here we have unmis- 
takably a distortion of Fichte's fundamental idea. Read the 
following verses from Love/I and the succeeding reflection : — 

" Willkommen, erhabenster Gedanke, 
Der hoch zum Gotte mich erhebt 
Die Wesen sind, weil wir sie dachten, 
In triiber Ferae liegt die Welt, 
Es fallt in ibre dunkeln Schachten 
Ein Schimmer, den wir mit uns brachten. 
Warum sie nicht in wilde Triimmer fallt ? 
Wir sind das Schicksal, das sie aufrecht halt ! 
Den bangen Ketten froh entronnen 
Gen* ich nun kiihn durchs Leben hin, 
Den harten Pflichten abgewonnen, 
Von feigen Thoren nur ersonnen. 
Die Tugend ist nur, weil ich selber bin, 
Ein Wiederschein in meinem innera Sinn. 
Was kiimmern mich Gestalten, deren matten 
Lichtglanz ich selbst hervorgebracht ? 
Mag Tugend sich und Laster gatten 1 
Sie sind nur Dunst und Nebelschatten, 
Das Licht aus mir fallt in die finstre Nacht. 
Die Tugend ist nur, weil ich sie gedacht." l 

1 " Welcome, sublime thought, that makes of me a god I Things are, because we 
have thought them. — In the dim distance lies the world ; into its dark caverns (alls 



TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 63 

11 My outer self thus rules the material, my inner self 
the spiritual world. Everything is subject to my will; 
I can call every phenomenon, every action what I please ; 
the animate and the inanimate world are in leading-strings 
which are controlled by my mind ; my whole life is only a 
dream, the many forms in which I mould according to my 
will. I myself am the only law in all nature, and everything 
obeys this law." 

When Friedrich Schlegel exclaims, u Fichte is not a 
sufficiently absolute idealist ... I and Hardenberg (Novalis) 
are more what idealists ought to be," we remember that 
ten years previously, and long before there was any talk 
of Romanticism and Romanticists, Tieck had perceived 
what were to be the characteristics of the new school, 
ue. personal lawlessness, and the glorification of this law- 
lessness, under the name of imagination, as the source of 
life and art. Lovell is an extravagant personification of 
these characteristics. Kierkegaard's Johannes the Seducer, 
the most perfect and the last example of the type in Danish 
literature, always keeps within certain bounds ; he evades 
ethical questions, looking upon morality as a tiresome, [ 
troublesome power, and never attacking it directly ; but 
Lovell, the more many-sided, the more boldly planned, if | 
less skilfully worked-out character, recoils neither from 
treachery, nor bloodshed, nor poison. He is one of this 
period's many variations of the Don Juan-Faust type, with 
a touch of Schiller's Franz Moor. Satiety of self-con- 
templation has, in his case, led to a boundless contempt for 
mankind, to a ruthless sweeping away of all illusions ; the one 
and only consolation being that thus hypocrisy is unveiled 
and the ugly truth seen. There is a close analogy with 
much that the Romanticists subsequently wrote in such an 

a ray of light, which we brought with us. Why does this world not fall into atoms ? 
Because the power of our will holds it together 1 — Glad at heart because I have 
escaped from my chains, I now go boldly forward in the path of life, absolved from 
those irksome duties which were the invention of cowardly fools. Virtue is, because 
I am ; it is but the reflection of my inner self. — What care I for forms which borrow 
their dim splendour from myself? Let virtue wed with vice! They are but 
shadows in the mist. The light that illumines the dark night comes from me. 
Virtue is, because I have thought iL" 



64 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

utterance as this : "Voluptuousness is undoubtedly the great 
mystery of our being ; even the purest and most fervent love 
dives into this pool. . . . Only ruthlessness, only a clear 
perception of the illusion can save us ; Amalie is, therefore, 
nothing to me, now that I see that poetry, art, and even 
love, are only draped and veiled sensuality. . . . Sensuality 
is the driving-wheel of the whole machinery . . . voluptu- 
ousness is the inspiration of music, of painting, of all the 
arts ; all human desires flutter round this magnetic pole, 
like moths round a candle ; . . . hence it is that Boccaccio 
and Ariosto are the greatest poets, and that Titian and the 
wanton Correggio stand high above Domenichino and pious 
Raphael. Even religious devotion I consider to be only a 
diverted course of that sensual instinct which is refracted 
in a thousand different colours." One would expect this 
Lovell, in whose meditations sensuality plays so great a 
part, to be represented as a man whose instincts lead him 
far astray. Not at all! He is as cold as ice, as cold as 
Kierkegaard's shadow of a seducer, whom he in this 
particular anticipates. He does not commit his excesses 
with his flesh and blood, but with his fantastically excited 
brain. He is a purely intellectual being, a North German 
of the purest water. And there is one particular in which 
he is, in anticipation, astonishingly Romantic. When he 
has, so to speak, burned himself out, when every spark of 
conviction is extinguished in his mind, and all his feelings 
lie "slain and dead" around him, he seeks refuge in the 
supernatural and places his trust in mystic revelations, of 
which an old impostor has held out the prospect. This 
trait, which, significantly enough, is not to be found in his 
French prototype, was necessary to complete the character. 

The personality here is so hollow, weighs so light in its 
own estimation, that the impression it produces on itself is, 
that it is both real and unreal ; it has become unfamiliar to 
itself, and has as little confidence in itself as in any exterior 
power. It stands outside its own experiences, and when it 
acts, feels as if it were playing a part. Lovell tells us how 
he seduced a young girl, Emily Burton : " I suddenly cast 
myself at her feet, and confessed that it was nothing but my 



TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 65 

passionate love for her which had brought me to the castle ; 
I declared that this was to be my last attempt to learn if 
there were any human heart that would still come to my aid 
and reconcile me to life and fate. She was beautiful, and I 
acted my part with wonderful inspiration, exactly as if it 
were a congenial role in a play ; every word I said told ; 
I spoke with fire and yet without affectation." And later he 
remarks : " She has herself to reproach for any temporary 
loss of home happiness ; I am not to blame because, in ac- 
cordance with conventional ideas, she is at present disgraced 
in the eyes of many. I played one part, she answered with 
another ; we acted the play of a very stupid writer with 
great seriousness, and now we regret having wasted our 
time." The whole was nothing but a scene from a play. 

In this fictitious character there are already developed 
those qualities which we find later in real characters, such 
as Friedrich Schlegel and Gentz ; and in this one man's 
habit of mind we have all that, which, transferred to art, 
became the notorious irony of Romanticism. Here, in the 
character, is the undisguised egotism which looks upon life 
as a role ; there, in art, the misconception and exaggeration 
of Schiller's idea that artistic activity is " a game," a play, 
i^an activity without any outward aim — in short, the belief 
that truer art is that which perpetually shatters its own 
edifice, renders illusion impossible, and ends, like Tieck's 
comedies, in self-parody. There is the very closest resem- 
blance between the manner in which the hero acts and the 
manner in which the comedy is written. The irony is one 
and the same ; it may all be traced back to the same ego- 
tism and unreality. 1 

In order really to understand the psychological condition 
depicted in Lovell, we must not only see its ultimate conse- 
quences, but must also, as in the case of Ren6, see how it 
originates and what conditions it. It is conditioned by the 
ferment of lawlessness distinctive of the period. Hence the 
most diverse creative minds co-operate in the production of 
the type. As a Titan of satiety, of tedium vike 9 Lovell is 
only one of a race of Titans. 

1 Tieck: William Lovell, i. 49, 52, 172, 178, 212; ii. no. 



66 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Two years before Lovell was planned, Jean Paul, who 
was ten years older than Tieck and four years younger than 
Schiller, began a description of this race in his so-called 
u Faustiade," the novel Titan. Jean Paul is in many ways 
the forerunner of Romanticism ; in the Romantic School 
Hoffmann recalls him to us, as Tieck recalls Goethe. He is 
a thorough Romanticist in the absolute arbitrariness with 
which, as an artist, he sets to work. As Auerbach says, he 
has " in readiness studies of men, moods, traits of charac- 
ter, psychological complications, and miscellaneous imagery, 
which he introduces at random, adjusting them to given 
characters or situations." He thrusts all kinds of irrelevant 
matter into the elastic framework of his story. He is, 
further, a Romanticist in his absorption in self — for it is 
himself, always himself, who speaks by the mouth of his 
characters, whatever they may be ; in the famous humour 
which with him lords it over all else, respecting none of the 
conventions of style ; and, finally, in the fact that he is the 
antipodes of classical culture. But, whatever he may have 
been in art, in life he was not the defender of lawlessness, 
but the ardent champion of liberty, Fichte's equal in enthu- 
siastic persistence. He was neither the foe of enlighten- 
ment, nor of reason, nor of the Reformation, nor of the 
Revolution ; he was convinced of the historical value and 
the full validity of the ideas which it is the glory of the 
eighteenth century to have produced and championed. 
Therefore he uplifted a warning voice against the futile, 
demoralising fantasticality of the Romanticists. 

Titan contains the most powerful of Jean Paul's ideal 
characters, Roquairol. His strength did not lie in the 
delineation of ideal characters ; he was first and foremost 
the admirable, realistic idyll-writer. 

Roquairol is a prototype of the form in which the age 
moulded its passion and its despair. He is burning, con- 
scious desire, which develops into fantastic eccentricity, 
because circumstances have no use for it, and because it 
does not possess the power to take hold of reality, re-mould 
it and subject it to itself; it becomes a disease, which 
strikes inwards and leads to morbid self-contemplation and 



TIECK AND JEAN PAUL 67 

suicide. Roquairol describes himself in a letter (Titan, iii. 
Zykel, 88):— 

" Look at me when I take off my mask! My face 
twitches convulsively, like the face of a man who has taken 
poison. I have indeed taken poison ; I have swallowed the 
great poison ball, the ball called Earth. ... I am like a 
hollow tree, charred by a fantastic fire. When the worms in 
the intestines of the Ego — anger, ecstasy, love, and the like — 
begin to crawl about in me and devour each other, I look 
down upon them from the height of my Ego, I cut them in 
pieces as if they were polypi and fasten them into each 
other. Then I look on at myself looking on. This repeats 
itself ad infinitum. What is the use of it all ? Mine is not 
the usual idealism, the idealism of faith ; mine is an idealism 
of the heart, peculiar to those who have often experienced all 
the emotions, on the stage, on paper, or in real life. But of 
what good is it ? ... I often look upon the mountains and 
the rivers and the ground round about me, and feel as if at 
any moment they might dissolve and disappear, and I with 
them. . • • There is in man a callous, bold spirit, which 
asserts its independence of everything, even of virtue. Man 
chooses virtue if he will ; he is its creator, not its creature. 
I once experienced a storm at sea, when the raging, foaming 
waters lashed themselves into great crested billows, while 
from a calm sky the sun serenely looked on. So be it with 
you ! The heart is the storm, the sky the Ego ! ... Do 
you believe that the authors of tragedies and novels, or at 
any rate the geniuses among them, who a thousand times 
over have aped everything human and divine, are different 
from me? What really sustains them and the others is 
their hunger for money and renown. . . . The apes are the 
geniuses amongst the beasts, and geniuses are apes in their 
aesthetic mimicry, in heartlessness, malignity, sensuality, 
and — gaiety." 

He relates how an inclination which was simply the 
result of ennui had led him to seduce his friend's sister. 
" I lost nothing ; in me there is no innocence. I gained 
nothing, for I hate sensual pleasure. The broad black 
shadow which some call remorse quickly blotted out the 



68 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

fleeting bright picture of the magic-lantern ; but is the black 
worse for the eyes than the bright ? " 

He who reflects carefully upon even these short extracts 
from Jean Paul's huge four-volume novel will see how here 
again a connecting line is drawn between life and art. With- 
out premeditation, but very significantly, Roquairol takes 
the nature of the productive artist as an image of his own, 
and the expressions €i charred by fantastic fire" and "the 
idealism of the heart " are as accurate as scientific definitions. 
There was no doubt in the author's mind as to what it was 
he wished to delineate. Roquairol, after committing his 
last and most abominable crime, namely, visiting Linda by 
night, disguised as his friend and her lover, Albano, is made 
to die by his own hand on the stage. He is playing a 
part which ends in suicide, and he shoots himself dead. 
He lives to the last moment in a world of appearances 
and make-believe, confusing or blending the real with the 
imaginary. And this determination to make reality fantastic 
or poetical is the distinguishing feature of the succeeding 
generation, the task to which it set itself, the problem which 
all its productions were attempts to solve. To understand 
this is to understand and excuse the blunders it makes in its 
schemes for the remoulding of reality, such a scheme, for 
instance, as we find in Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde. 

The great question of the relation of poetry to life, 
despair over the deep, bitter discord between them, the 
unwearied struggle to bring about a reconciliation — this is 
what lies at the foundation of the whole of German litera- 
ture from the Sturm und Drang period to the death of 
Romanticism. In order, therefore, to understand Lucinde, 
as well as Love/l, it is necessary to look back. We under- 
stand both better by the help of Jean Paul's Titan. Lovell's 
predecessor is the Titan Roquairol, Lucinde's the Titaness 
Linda. 



SOCIAL ENDEAVOURS OF THE ROMANTICISTS: 
LUCINDE 

At the University of Jena, in June 1801, a young candidate 
for the degree of doctor stood on the rostrum delivering 
his thesis. Everything possible was done to put him out 
and annoy him ; the unprecedented step was taken of 
providing opponents. One of these, a somewhat inept 
young man, desiring to distinguish himself, began: "In 
tractate tuo erotica Luanda dixisti" &c, &c. To this the 
candidate shortly responded by calling his opponent a fool. 
A regular uproar ensued, and one of the professors indig- 
nantly declared that it was thirty years since the platform of 
the school of philosophy had been profaned by such dis- 
graceful behaviour. The candidate retorted that it was 
thirty years since any one had been so disgracefully treated. 
This candidate was Friedrich Schlegel, in those days so 
much dreaded on account of his terrible opinions that he 
was sometimes refused permission to spend a night in a 
town. In a rescript from the Universitets-Kuratorium of the 
Electorate of Hanover to the Pro-Rector of Gottingen, dated 
September 26, 1800, we read: "Should the Professor's 
brother, Friedrich Schlegel, notorious for the immoral ten- 
dency of his writings, come to Gottingen, purposing to stay 
there for any time, this is not to be permitted ; you will be 
so good as to intimate to him that he must leave the town. 1 ' 

Somewhat harsh justice this — and all the to-do was on 
account of Lucinde! 

It is not the creative power displayed in it which makes 

Lucinde one of the most important works of the Romantic 

School, for, in spite of all the " fleshly " talk in the book, 

there is no flesh and blood in it, no real body. Neither is 

it depth of thought. There is more philosophy in the few 

69 



70 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

paradoxical pages written by Schopenhauer under the title 
Metaphysik der Liebe than in pretentious Lucinde from begin- 
ning to end. It is not even a bacchantic joy in nature, in 
life. If we compare it with Heine's Ardinghello, a book 
glowing with genuine Southern joy of life, we see clearly 
how anaemic and theoretic Lucinde is. It is as a manifesto 
and programme that the book is valuable. Its main idea 
is to proclaim the unity and harmony of life as revealed to 
us most clearly and most comprehensibly in the passion 
of love, which gives a sensual expression to the spiritual 
emotion, and spiritualises the sensual pleasure. What it 
aims at depicting is the transformation of real life into 
poetry, into art, into Schiller's "play" of powers, into a 
dreamy, imaginative existence, with every longing satisfied, 
a life in which man, acting with no aim, living for no purpose, 
is initiated into the mysteries of nature, " understands the 
plaint of the nightingale, the smile of the new-born babe, 
and all that is mysteriously revealed in the hieroglyphics of 
flowers and stars." 

This book is totally misunderstood by those who, like 
Kierkegaard, arm themselves w:th a whole set of dogmatic 
principles, and fall upon it, exclaiming : " What it aims at is 
the unmitigated sensuality which excludes the element of 
spirituality ; what it combats is the spirituality which in- 
cludes an element of sensuality." One can scarcely realise 
the blindness implied by such an utterance — but there are 
no better blinders than those provided by orthodoxy. Nor 
is it possible really to understand Lucinde so long as, like 
Gutzkow, we only see in it a vindication of the doctrine of 
free love, or, like Schleiermacher, a protest against incor- 
poreal spirituality, a denunciation of the affected foolishness 
that denies and explains away flesh and blood. The funda- 
mental idea of the book is the Romantic doctrine of the 
identify of life and poetry. This serious thought, however, is 
presented in a form expressly calculated to win the laurels 
of notoriety. Our admiration is aroused by the bold, defiant 
tone of the author's challenge, by the courage, born of con- 
viction, with which he exposes himself to personal insult, 
and to public, ill-natured discussion of his private life. 



fa 




■^, ~ 



r. ^ m.fS'f.%. 



SOCIAL ENDEAVOURS OF ROMANTICISTS 71 

Worthy of admiration, too, is the skill with which the diffe- 
rent views and watchwords of Romanticism are collected 
and presented to us in small compass ; for all the various 
tendencies of the movement, developed by so many different 
individuals, are to be seen in this one book, spreading fan- 
wise from a centre. But we are disgusted by the artistic 
impotence to which the so-called novel, in reality a mere 
sketch, bears witness, by its many beginnings that end in 
nothing, and by all the feeble self- worship which seeks to 
disguise barrenness by producing an artificial and un- 
healthy heat in which to hatch its unfertile eggs. Caroline 
Schlegel has preserved for us the following biting epigram, 
written soon after the book came out — 

" Der Pedantismus bat die Phantasie 
Um einen Kuss, sie wies ihn an die Siinde ; 
Freeh, ohne Kraft, umarmt er die, 
Und sie genas mit einem todten Kinde, 
Genannt Lucinde." l 

Beyond considering the word u sin " inappropriate — for 
Lucinde only sins against good taste and true poetry — I have 
no fault to find with this cruel satire. 

At the very core of Lucinde we have once again subjec- 
tivity, self-absorption, in the form of an arbitrariness which 
may develop into anything — revolution, effrontery, bigotry, re- 
action — because it is not from the beginning associated with 
anything that is a power, because the Ego does not act in 
the service of an idea which could give to its endeavour 
stability and value ; it acts neither in the service of civil nor 
of intellectual liberty. This arbitrariness or lawlessness, which, 
in the domain of art, becomes the Friedrich Schlegelian 
" irony," the artist's attitude of aloofness from his subject, 
his free play with it (resulting, as far as poetry is concerned, 
in the dictatorship of pure form, which mocks at its own sub- 
stance and destroys its own illusions), becomes in the domain 
of real life an irony which is the dominant feature in the 
characters and lives of the gifted few, the aristocracy of 

1 M Pedantry asked Fancy for a kiss ; she sent him to Sin ; audaciously but impo- 
tently he embraces Sin ; she bears him a dead child, by name Lucinde." 



72 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

intellect. This irony is a riddle to the profane, who " lack 
the sense of it." It is " the freest of all licences/' because by 
its means a man sets himself outside of and above himself ; 
yet it is also the most subject to law, being, we are told, un- 
qualified and inevitable. It is a perpetual self-parody, in- 
comprehensible to "the harmonious vulgar" (harmonisch 
Plaiten — the name bestowed by the Romanticists on those 
who live contentedly in a trivial, common-place harmony), 
who mistake its earnest for jest and its jest for earnest. 

It is not merely in name that this irony bears a funda- 
mental resemblance to Kierkegaard's, which also aristo- 
cratically "chooses to be misunderstood." The Ego of 
genius is the truth, if not in the sense in which 
Kierkegaard would have us understand his proposition, 
"Subjectivity is the truth," still in the sense that the Ego 
has every externally valid commandment and prohibition in 
its power ; and, to the astonishment and scandal of the world, 
invariably expresses itself in paradoxes. Irony is "divine 
audacity." In audacity thus comprehended there are end- 
less possibilities. It is freedom from prejudice, yet it 
suggests the possibility of the most audacious defence of all 
possible kinds of prejudices. It is more easily attainable, we 
are told, by woman than by man. " Like the feminine garb, 
the feminine intellect has this advantage over the masculine, 
that its possessor by a single daring movement can rise above 
all the prejudices of civilisation and bourgeois conventionality, 
at once transporting herself into the state of innocence and 
the lap of Nature." The lap of Nature ! There is an echo 
of Rousseau's voice even in this wanton tirade. We seem to 
hear the trumpet-call of revolution ; what we really hear is only 
the proclamation of reaction. Rousseau desired to return 
to the state of nature, when men roamed naked through the 
pathless forests and lived upon acorns. Schelling wished to 
turn the course of evolution back to the primeval ages, to 
the days before man had fallen. Schlegel blows revolution- 
ary melodies on the great romantic " wonder-horn." But, as 
we read in Des Knaben Wunderhorn : " Es blies ein Jager 
wohl in sein Horn — Und Alles was er blies, das war verlorn." 1 

1 " A hunter blew into his horn, and all that he blew the wind carried away." 



SOCIAL ENDEAVOURS OF ROMANTICISTS 73 

The result is not intellectual emancipation, but simply a 
refinement of pleasure. The whole wide domain of love is 
transformed into the domain of art. As Romantic poetry is 
poetry to the second power, poetry about poetry, refined and 
chastened poetry, so the love of the Romanticists is refined 
and chastened love, " the art of love." The different degrees 
of the higher sensuality are described and classified. I refer 
the reader to Lucinde, which does not, like ArdingheUo, present 
us with voluptuous descriptions, but merely with dry, pedantic 
theory, the empty framework of which it is left to the reader's 
experience and imagination to fill. Romantic audacity is, in 
one of its aspects, idleness, the indolence of genius. Idleness is 
described as " the life-atmosphere of innocence and inspira- 
tion." In its highest expression it is pure passivity, the life of 
the plant. " The highest, most perfect life is a life of pure 
vegetation." The Romanticists return to nature to such good 
purpose that they revert to the plant. Passive enjoyment 
of the eternally enduring moment would be their idea of 
perfection. u I meditated seriously," says Julius to Lucinde, 
11 upon the possibility of an eternal embrace." As genius, 
which is independent of toil and trouble, and voluptuous 
enjoyment, which in itself is passive bliss, have nothing to 
do with aim, action, or utility, so idleness, dolce far niente, 
comes to be regarded as the best that life can offer, 
and purpose, which leads to systematic action, is denounced 
as ridiculous and philistine. The principal utterance to 
this effect in Lucinde is the following : « Industry and utility 
are the angels of death with the flaming swords, who 
stand in the way of man's return to Paradise." Yes, 
that is exactly what they are I Industry and utility bar 
the way back to all the Paradises which lie behind us. 
Therefore we hold them sacred ! Utility is one of the main 
forms of good ; and what is industry but the renunciation 
of distracting pleasures, the enthusiasm, the power, whereby 
this good is attained ! 

Return to perfection is, in art, a return to the lawlessness 
of genius, to the stage at which the artist may do one thing, 
or may do another which is exactly the opposite 
it is the retrogression of idleness, for he who b 



74 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

back, back to passive pleasure. In philosophy it is the return 
to intuitive beliefs, beliefs to which Schlegel applies the name of 
religion ; which religion in its turn leads back to Catholicism. 
As far as nature and history are concerned, it is retrogression 
towards the conditions of the primeval Paradise. 1 Thus it is 
the central idea of Romanticism itself — retrogression — which 
explains how it was that even the heaven-storming Lucinde, 
like all the other heaven-stortners of the Romanticists, had 
not the slightest practical outcome. 

1 A. Ruge : Gtsamirult* SchrifUn, i. 328, &c. 



VI 

ROMANTIC PURPOSELESSNESS 

In Luctndey then, as in a nutshell, are to be found all the theories 
which, later in the history of Romanticism, are developed 
and illustrated by examples. In such an essay as that on 
the Instinct of Change by the ^Esthete in Kierkegaard's 
EnUn-EUer (" Either-Or ") idleness is systematised. " Never 
adopt any calling or profession. By so doing a man becomes 
simply one of the mob, a tiny bolt in the great machinery of 
the state ; he ceases to be master. . . . But though we hold 
aloof from all regular callings, we ought not to be inactive, 
but to attach great importance to occupation which is iden- 
tical with idleness. . . . The whole secret lies in the inde- 
pendence, the absence of restraint. We are apt to believe 
that there is no art in acting unrestrained by any law ; in 
reality the most careful calculation is required, if we are not 
to go astray, but to obtain enjoyment from it . . ." 

Idleness, lawlessness, enjoyment! This is the three- 
leaved clover which grows all over the Romanticist's field. 
In such a book as Eichendorff's Das Leben eines Taugenichts 
(" Life of a Ne'er-do^Well ") idleness is idealised and exalted 
in the person of the hero. And purposelessness is another 
important item, which must on no account be overlooked. 
It is another designation for the genius of Romanticism. 
"To have a purpose, to act according to that purpose, 
artificially to combine purpose with purpose, and thereby 
create new purposes, is a bad habit, which has become so 
deeply rooted in the foolish nature of godlike man, that he is 
obliged, when for once it is his desire to float aimlessly upon 
the stream of constantly changing images and emotions, to do 
even this of settled purpose. ... It is very certain, my friend, 
that man is by nature a serious animal." (Julius to Lucinde.) 
On the subject of this utterance, even that orthodox 
VOL. II. 7S F 



76 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Christian, Kierkegaard, says: "In order not to misjudge 
Schlegel, we must bear in mind the perverted ideas which 
had insinuated themselves into men's minds in regard to 
many of the relations of life, and which had specially and 
indefatigably striven to make love as tame, well broken-in, 
heavy, sluggish, useful, and obedient, as any other domestic 
animal — in short, as unerotic as possible. . . . There is a 
very narrow-minded morality, a policy of expediency, a futile 
teleology, which many men worship as an idol, an idol that 
claims every infinite aspiration as its legitimate offering. Love 
is considered nothing in itself ; it only acquires importance 
from the purpose it is made to serve in the paltry play 
which holds the stage of family life." It is perhaps admis- 
sible to conclude that what Kierkegaard says about " the tame, 
well broken-in, sluggish, and useful domestic animal, love/' 
found its most apt application in Germany, which at that time 
was undoubtedly the home of the old-fashioned womanliness. 
The satirical sallies in Tieck's comedies occasionally point in 
the same direction. In his D&umling (" Hop-o'-my-thumb ") 
a husband complains of his wife's craze for knitting, which 
gives him no peace ; a complaint which, perhaps, can only be 
understood in Germany, where to this day ladies are to be 
seen knitting even in places of public entertainment — at the 
concerts on the Bruhlsche Terrasse in Dresden, for example. 
Herr Semmelziege says : — 

" Des Hauses Sorge nahm zu sehr den Sinn ihr ein, 
Die Sauberkeit, das Porzellan, die Wasche gar : 
Wenn ich ihr wohl von meiner ew'gen Liebe sprach, 
Nahm sie der Biirste vielbehaartes Brett zur Hand, 
Um meinem Rock die Faden abzukehren still. 

■ . • • • . 

Doch hatt* ich gem geduldet Alles, ausser Eins : 
Dass, wo sie stand, und wo sie ging, auswarts, im Haus, 
Auch im Concert, wenn Tongewirr die SchSprang schuf, 

Da zaspelnd, haspelnd, heftig rauschend, nimmer still, 
Ellnbogen fliegend, schlagend Seiten und Geripp, 
Sie immerdar den Strickstrumpf eifrig handgehabt w 1 

1 " Her mind was occupied with household cares— 
The washing, and the china, and the cook : 



ROMANTIC PURPOSELESSNESS 77 

The most comical part of this satire is the passage which, 
whether intentionally or unintentionally on the author's part, 
reads like a parody of the well-known Roman Elegy in 
which Goethe drums the hexameter measure, "leise mit 
fingernder Hand," upon his mistress's back : — 

" Ernst als des Thorus heilig Lager uns umfing, 
Am Himmel glanzvoll prangte Lunas keuscher Schein, 
Dcr goldnen Aphrodite Gab* erwiinschend mir, 
Von silberweissen Armen ich umflochten lag. 
Schon denkend, welch ein Wunderkind so holder Nacht, 
Welch Vaterlandserretter, kraftgepanzert, soil 
Dem zarten Leib entspriessen nach der Horen Tanz, 
FiihF ich am Rucken hinter mir gar sanften Schlag : 
Da wahn ich, Liebsgekose neckt die Schulter mir, 
Und lachle fromm die stisse Braut und sinnig an : 
Bald naht mir der Enttauschung grauser Hdllenschmerz 
Das Strickzeug tanzt auf meinem Rucken thatig fort ; 
Ja, stand das Werk just in der Ferse Beugung, wo 
Der Kundigste, ob vielem Zahlen, selber pfuscht" 1 

When the cult of the useful is carried as far as this, we 
can understand advocacy of purposelessness. 

But purposelessness and idleness are inseparable, " Only 
Italians," we are told, " know how to walk, and only Orientals 
how to lie ; and where has the mind developed with more 

Did I begin to speak of endless love, 

She took the bristled clothes-brush in her hand, 

And calmly turned me round and brushed my coat 



All this I bore quite placidly, but not 
That, sitting, standing, everywhere we went, 
Yes, even at concerts, when sweet strains beguiled, 

Entwining, clicking, rustling, never still, 
Her elbows flying, thumping on her side, 
Her knitting-needles vigorously she plied." 

" The sacred hymeneal couch had received us ; Luna's chaste beams illumined 
our chamber. Encircled by white arms I lay, praying for Aphrodite's favour, dreaming 
of the marvellous child that needs must be the offspring of a night like this, the 
mighty hero who in fulness of time shall see the light Soft taps upon my shoulder 
rouse me from my dream ; 'tis my sweet bride caressing me ; I thank her silently, 
with tender, meaning smile. One moment later, and my heart is torn by hellish pings 
of disillusionment ; it is her knitting that is dancing on my back ; worse still—she * 
at the turning of the heel, that point when the most skilful, despite their ecu mir 
often blunder." 



78 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

refinement and sweetness than in India ? And in every clime 
it is idleness which distinguishes the noble from the simple, 
and which is, therefore, the essence of nobility." 

This last assertion is outrageous, but its very audacity is 
significant. It shows the attitude of Romanticism towards 
the masses. To have the means to, do nothing is, in its 
estimation, the true patent of nobility. Its heroes are those 
who cultivate the unremunerative arts, and are supported by 
others — kings and knights like those in Fouqu6's and Inge- 
mann's books, artists and poets like those in Tieck's and 
Novalis's. It separates itself from humanity, will do nothing 
for it, but only for the favoured few. The hero and heroine 
in Lucinde are the gifted artist and the woman of genius ; it 
is not the ordinary union, but the " nature-marriage " or the 
11 art-marriage " (Naturehe, Kunstehe) for which our interest is 
claimed. Observe how Julius at once asks Lucinde whether 
her child, if a girl, shall be trained as a portrait or as a land- 
scape painter. Only as a member of the fraternity of artists 
do her parents take any interest in her. Only authors and 
artists have part and lot in the poetry of life. 

It is not difficult to understand how it was that Lucinde 
was barren of any social results. But though the book had 
no practical outcome, though it was too feeble to effect any 
kind of reform, there was, nevertheless, something practical 
underlying it. 

Let us cast a glance at the principal characters. They 
stand out in strong relief upon a background of the pro- 
foundest scorn for all the prose of real life and all the 
conventions of society. The book is in no wise ashamed 
of its erotic theories; in its conscious purity it feels itself 
elevated above the judgment of the vulgar : " It is not only 
the kingly eagle which dares to scorn the screaming of the 
ravens ; the swan, too, is proud, and pays as little heed. Its 
only care is that its white wings shall not lose their bright- 
ness ; its only desire, to cling, unruffled, to Leda's breast, and 
breathe forth all that is mortal in it in song." 

The image is pretty and daring, but is it true? The 
story of Leda and the swan has been treated in so many 
ways. 



ROMANTIC PURPOSELESSNESS 79 

Julius is a pessimistic (zerrissener) young man, an artist, 
of course. We are told in the Lehrjahre der M&nnlichkeit, the 
chapter containing what Flaubert has called r education senti- 
mentale, that it was strikingly characteristic of him that he 
could play faro with apparently passionate eagerness, and yet 
in reality be absent-minded and careless ; he would dare 
everything in the heat of the moment, and as soon as he 
had lost would turn indifferently away. Such a trait may 
not excite our admiration, but it at all events produces a j 
pretty distinct impression of a pleasure-loving, blast young ; 
man, who, feeling no powerful impulse towards action, seeks ( 
for excitement while leading a life of careless, coldly de- 
spairing idleness. The history of his development is indi- 
cated, as is often the case with quite young men, simply 
by a succession of female names. 

Of the women in question we have only very slight 
sketches, like the pencil-drawings in an album. One of these 
introductory portraits is rather more elaborated than the rest, 
that of a dame aux camilias sunk in Oriental indolence, who, 
like the original dame aux camilias, is raised above her position 
by a true passion, and dies when she is neither understood 
nor believed. She dies by her own hand, makes a brilliant 
exit from life, and seems to us, as she is described sitting in 
her boudoir with her hands in her lap, surrounded by great 
mirrors and inhaling perfumes, like a living image of the * 
aesthetic stupor of self-contemplation and self-absorption, |l 
which was the final development of Romanticism. After pass- \ 
ing through numbers of erotic experiences, all equally and ex- 
ceedingly repulsive, Julius finally makes the acquaintance of 
his feminine counterpart, Lucinde, whose impression is never 
effaced. " In her he met a youthful artist " (Of course 1), 
11 who, like himself, passionately worshipped beauty and loved 
nature and solitude. In her landscapes one felt a fresh 
breath of real air. She painted not to gain a living or to 
perfect herself in an art" (On no account any purpose or j 
utility !) li but simply for pleasure " (Dilettantism and irony !). | 
" Her productions were slight water-colour sketches. She had 
lacked the patience and industry required to learn oil-paint- 
ing." (No industry 1) . . . il Lucinde had a decided leaning 



80 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

towards the romantic " (Of course she had ; she is romance 
incarnate !). " She was one of those who do not live in 
the ordinary world, but in one created by themselves. 
. . . With courageous determination she had broken with 
all conventions, cast off all bonds, and lived in perfect free- 
dom and independence." From the time when Julius meets 
her, his art too becomes more fervid and inspired. He 
paints the nude " in a flood of vitalising light ; " his figures 
" were like animated plants in human shapes." 

With Julius and Lucinde life flows on smoothly and 
melodiously, " like a beautiful song," in perpetually aroused 
and satisfied longing. The action passes, as it were, in a 
studio where the easel stands close to the alcove. Lucinde 
becomes a mother, and their union is now the " marriage of 
nature" (die Naturehe). "What united us before was love 
and passion. Now nature has united us more closely." The 
birth of the child gives the parents u civic rights in the state 
of nature " (probably Rousseau's), the only civic rights they 
seem to have valued. The Romanticists were as indifferent 
to social and political rights as Kierkegaard's hero, who was 
of opinion that we ought to be glad that there are some who 
care to rule, thereby freeing the rest of us from the task. 



VII 

"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 

Behind this indistinct picture lay a far more definitely out- 
lined reality. The youthful life of the hero corresponded 
pretty accurately, as Friedrich Schlegel's letters show, with 
that of the author. In those days Berlin had not yet become 
pious, but was, according to the evidence of contemporaries, 
a species of Venusberg, which none approached with impunity. 
The example of the throne sanctioned every species of moral 
licence. Enthusiasm for art and literature superseded the 
official morality which a short time before had been so 
powerful, but from which men were rapidly emancipating 
themselves. 

In the autumn of 1799, the year in which Lucinde was 
published, Friedrich Schlegel wrote to Schleiermacher : 
"People here have been behaving so outrageously that 
Schelling has had a fresh attack of his old enthusiasm for 
irreligion, in which I support him with all my might. He 
has composed an epicurean confession of faith in the Hans 
Sachs-Goethe style." This was Der Widerporst. 

" Kann es furwahr nicht langer ertragen, 
Muss wieder einmal urn mich schlagen, 
Wieder mich riihren mit alien Sinnen, 
So mir dachten zu entrinnen 
Von den hohen, uberirdischen Lehren, 
Dazu sie mich wollten mit Gewalt bekehren 
Darum, so will auch ich bekennen 
Wie ich in mir es fuhle brennen, 
Wie mii^s in alien Adern schwillt, 
Mein Wort so viel wie anderes gilt, 
Da ich in boV und guten Stunden 
Mich habe gar trefflich befunden, 
Seit ich gekommen in's Klare, 
Die Materie sei das einzig Wahre. 



82 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Halte nichts vom Unsichtbaren, 
Halt* mich allein am Offenbaren, 
Was ich kann riechen, schmecken, fuhlen, 
Mit alien Sinnen drinnen wuhlen. 
Mein einzig 3 Religion ist die, 
Dass ich liebe ein schones Knie, 
Voile Brust und schlanke Hiiften, 
Dazu Blumen mit siissen Diiften, 
Aller Lust voile Nahrung, 
Aller Liebe siisse Gewahrung. 
D'rum, solids eine Religion noch geben 
(Ob ich gleich kann ohne solche leben), 
Ktinnte mir vor den andern alien 
Nur die katholische gefallen, 
Wie sie war in den alten Zeiten, 
Da es gab weder Zanken noch Streiten, 
Waren alle ein Mus und Kuchen, 
Thaten's nicht in der Feme suchen, 
Thaten nicht nach dem Himmel gaffen, 
Hatten von Gotfnen lebend'gen AfFen, 
Hielten die Erde fur's Centrum der Welt, 
Zum Centrum der Erde Rom bestellt, 
Darin der Statthalter residirt 
Und der Welttheile Scepter fuhrt, 
Und lebten die Laien und die Pfaffen 
Zusammen wie im Land der Schlaraffen, 
Dazu sie im hohen Himmelhaus 
Selber lebten in Saus und Brans, 
War ein taglich Hochzeithalten 
Zwischen der Jungfrau und dem Alten." 1 

1 Plitt : Aus SeheUing's Leben, i. 282. " I can bear it no longer ; I most live once 
more, must let my senses have free play — these senses of which I have well-nigh been 
robbed by the grand transcendental theories to which they have done their utmost to 
convert me. But I too will now confess how my heart leaps and the hot blood rushes 
through my veins ; my word is as good as any man's ; and of good cheer have I been, 
in fair weather and in foul, since I became persuaded that there is nothing real but 
matter. I care not for the invisible ; I keep to the tangible, to what I can taste and 
smell, and feel, and satisfy all my senses with. I have no religion but this, that I 
love a well-shaped knee, a fair, plump bosom, a slender waist, v flowers with the 
sweetest odours, full satisfaction of all desires, the granting of all sweet love can ask. 
If I am obliged to have a religion (though I can live most happily without it), then it 
must be the Catholic, such as it was in the olden days, when there was no scolding 
and quarrelling, when all were kneaded of one dough. They did not trouble about 
the far-off, did not look longingly up to heaven ; they had a living image of God. 
The earth they held to be the centre of the universe, and the centre of the earth was 
Rome. There the great vicegerent sat enthroned, and wielded the sceptre of the 
world ; and priests and laity lived together as they live in the land of Cocagne ; and 
in the house of God itself high revelry was held." 



" LUCINDE " IN REAL LIFE 83 

Such a poem from such a hand is a genuine proof of the 
spirit of the times ; and it is instructive to observe that when 
Wilhelm Schlegel (acting upon Goethe's advice) refuses to 
publish the poem in the Athencmm, Novalis, against whom 
it was especially directed, writes : " I cannot understand why 
Der Widerporst should not be printed. Is it on account of 
its atheism ? Just think of Die Getter Griechenlands ! " 

The fashions were revolutionary — uncovered bosoms, 
orientally flowing garments. The tone of the most notable 
young women of the day was excessively free. No one 
was more talked of for her beauty at this time than Pauline 
Wiesel. She was the wife of a highly intellectual man, 
whose scepticism and satirical, cynical wit made a deep 
and disturbing impression upon young Tieck (he was the 
model for Abdallah and William Lovell); and she was 
one of Prince Louis Ferdinand's many mistresses. The 
attachment of the dashing young prince, in this case a real 
passion, still glows in his letters. A contemporary wrote 
of her : " I look upon her in the light of a phenomenon of 
Greek mythology." Alexander von Humboldt walked more 
than thirty miles to see her. It is characteristic of the times 
that the connection by which Pauline Wiesel compromised 
herself roused no disapprobation among her more advanced 
women friends. The irreproachable Rahel, for example, has 
not a word of blame for it ; one might almost imagine that 
she envied Pauline. As a young girl she writes despon- 
dently : " Every means, every possible preparation for living, 
and yet one must never live ; I never shall, and those who 
dare to do so have the wretched world, the whole world, 
against them." 

The original of Lucinde, however, was certainly superior 
to her portrait, a woman of an altogether nobler type. She 
belonged to Rahel's circle, that group of clever young 
Jewesses who then represented the noblest, freest intel- 
lectual life of Berlin — a circle historically important 
from the fact that it was the only one in which as yet 
Goethe's fame was really established and true homage 
paid him. 1 The lady in question was Moses Mendelssohn's 

1 Kopkc: TitcKsUbm, L 193. 



84 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

clever, self-reliant daughter, Dorothea, who, to please her 
parents, had bestowed her hand upon the well-known 
banker, Veit. It was not by beauty but by her wit 
and her keen intellectuality that she captivated Friedrich 
Schlegel. He was at the time twenty-five years of age, 
she thirty-two. There was nothing sensuous or frivolous 
in either her appearance or manner ; she had large 
piercing eyes and a masculine severity of expression. 
In his letters to his brother Wilhelm, Friedrich Schlegel 
praises "her sterling worth." "She is," he says, "very 
straightfoi ward, and cares for nothing but love, music, wit, 
and philosophy." In 1789 Dorothea was divorced from 
her husband and followed Schlegel to Jena. The latter 
writes at this time: "It has never been our intention to 
bind ourselves to each other by any marriage contract, 
though I have long considered it impossible that anything 
but death should part us. The calculation and adjust- 
ment of present and future is antipathetic to me, yet if 
the detested ceremony were the necessary condition of in- 
separableness, I should act according to the requirement 
of the moment and sacrifice my most cherished opinions." 

In the arranging of their relations, none of their intimates 
helped Friedrich and Dorothea more than their clerical 
friend, Schleiermacher. On none of Schlegel's friends had 
Lucinde had such a powerful effect. Schleiermacher was at 
this time chaplain of the Charite Church in Berlin. He 
had long followed Friedrich's emancipatory endeavours with 
warm sympathy, and even admiration. In his essay On 
Diotima, as well as in his harsh criticism of Schiller's Wurde 
der Frauen, Friedrich had attacked the traditional conception 
of woman's position in society. He had held up to con- 
tempt the ordinary marriage, in which the wedded pair 
"live together with a feeling of mutual contempt, he seeing 
in her only her sex, she in him his social position, and 
both in their children their own production and property." 
What he desired was the moral and intellectual emanci- 
pation of women. Intellect and culture, combined with 
enthusiasm, were the qualities which in his eyes made a 
woman lovable. The ordinary ideal of womanliness he 



"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 85 

scorned. He writes with bitterness of the stupidity and 
criminality of the men who demand ignorance and inno- 
cence in women, thereby compelling them to be prudish. 
Prudery is false pretence of innocence. True innocence 
in woman he maintains to be perfectly compatible with 
intellectual culture. It exists wherever there is religion, 
i.e. capacity for enthusiasm. The idea that noble, en- 
lightened free-thought is less becoming in the case of 
women than of men is only one of the many generally 
accepted platitudes set in circulation by Rousseau. "The 
thraldom of woman" is one of the curses of humanity. 
His highest desire as an author was, as he naively puts it, 
"to found a system of morality" (eine Moral zu stiften). 
He calls opposition to positive law and conventional ideas 
of right, " the first moral impulse " felt by man. 

In his Vernunftkatechismus fUr edh Frauen ("Catechism 
of Reason for Noble-minded Women"), a fragment which 
appeared in the Athenceum, Schleiermacher writes in exactly 
the same strain, calling upon women to free themselves from 
the bonds of their sex. Nay, incredible as it may sound, 
it is quite possible (as Haym has proved) that the frequently 
quoted saying of Friedrich Schlegel, that there is nothing 
of serious importance to be urged against a marriage & 
quatre, really emanated from Schleiermacher. It is levelled 
at the many degrading and unreal marriages, at the " un- 
successful attempts at marriage," which the State in its 
foolishness makes binding, and which prevent the possi- 
bility of a true marriage. The writer of the fragment in 
which the saying occurs observes that most marriages are 
only preparatory and distant approximations to the true 
marriage ; and Schleiermacher, in his Letters, writes that . 
many attempts are necessary, and that "if four or five 
couples were taken together, really good marriages might 
result, provided they were allowed to exchange." 

The underlying reason for the warm personal interest 
taken by Schleiermacher in Friedrich and Dorothea is, no 
doubt, to be found in his own position and circumstances 
at that time. A devoted attachment existed between him 
and Eleonore Grunow, the childless and most unhar 
wife of a Berlin clergyman. 



86 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

It seemed to Schleiermacher that the popular indignation 
roused by Lucinde was largely compounded of philistine and 
Pharisaical ignorance. The very people who abused it 
were revelling in Wieland's and Cr6billon's immoral tales. 
" It reminds me," he says, " of the trials for witchcraft, 
where malice formulated the charge, and pious stupidity 
carried out the sentence." But what especially led to his 
ardent championship of the persecuted pair was, he tells 
us himself, the fact that most of those who complained 
loudly of offended morality were simply seeking a pretext 
for a private personal attack on Schlegel. 

An invincible spirit dwelt in Dorothea's frail body. She 
bore unfalteringly all that her violation of conventional 
morality brought upon her — private condemnation and 
public defamation in the shape of innuendoes in the attacks 
on Lucinde. She displayed the most enduring devotion 
and the most self-sacrificing faithfulness to the man she had 
chosen. She not only shares his interests and aims, but bears 
with his unreasonableness and resigns herself uncomplain- 
ingly to the caprices of the most capricious of lovers. Nay, 
more than this, her good sense and cheerfulness scatter all the 
clouds of despondency that gather round herself and others. 
Her merry laughter brings relief from Schleiermacher's 
subtle argumentativeness and Friedrich's transcendental 
irony. Free in every other respect from feminine senti- 
mentality, she is completely engrossed in admiration of the 
man she loves, and, with touching modesty, centres all her 
pride in him. When her novel Florentin is published, a 
book in which, in spite of its many weaknesses, there is more 
creative power than in any of Friedrich Schlegel's pro- 
ductions, what makes her happiest and proudest is that his 
name (as editor) stands on the title-page. She jests merrily 
on the subject of her literary activity. Blushing and with 
a beating heart, she sends the first volume of her book to 
Schleiermacher, and she smiles at the numerous red strokes 
which adorn the returned manuscript. "There is always 
the deuce in it where the dative and accusative ought to be." 
The fact that she too felt impelled to write at the time 
(about the year 1800) when all the Romanticists, even 
Schleiermacher and Schelling, were committing literary sins, 



"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 87 

marks her as one of the German Romantic literary circle ; 
and, moreover, her novel is, in reality, an expression of all 
the prevailing ideas, an imitation of Wilhelm Master and Franz . 
Stembaldy an exaltation of the harmoniously cultivated few 1 
at the expense of the vulgar crowd, a glorification of the 1 
free Bohemian life, of idleness and admirable frivolity, of 
purposelessness in the midst of the prose of reality. 

Dorothea has endowed her hero with characteristics 
which obviously correspond to Friedrich's as they appeared j 
to her admiring woman's eyes. " In spite of a peculiar f 
and often repellent manner, he has the gift of making him- / 
self popular, and wins all hearts without caring whether he 
does or not. It is of no avail to arm one's self against him 
with all one's pride ; somehow or other he gains entire pos- 
session of one. It is often most exasperating not to be 
able to withstand him, as he himself is not to be won. At 
times it seems as if he attached another meaning to his 
words than their obvious one ; sometimes when the most 
flattering things are said to him, he looks utterly indifferent, 
as if it were a matter of course ; at other times, quite un- 
expectedly, some chance word, let fall without any special 
intention, affords him the greatest pleasure ; he either finds 
in it or puts into it some peculiar meaning. . • . But you 
can imagine how often he gives offence in society." 

Florentin's confessions, too, especially those relating to 
his wild life as a youth in Venice, remind us of Friedrich's 
youthful experiences in Leipzig. Although Florentin is an 
Italian, he feels himself strongly attracted by German art 
and German artists. He teaches himself to draw and paint, 
and makes his living, now as the gifted Romantic dilettante 
artist, now as the no less Romantic musician, roaming from 
village to village. His birth is wrapt in mystery. He is, 
as he himself says, "the solitary, the outcast, the child of 
chance. Something indescribable, which I can only call 
my destiny, drives me on." He avoids all ties of affec- 
tion: "Alone will I bear the curse which has been laid 
upon me." 1 

It is unnecessary to criticise this characterisation in 

1 Florentin, pp. 65, 80, 170, 195, 230, 310. 



88 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

detail and point out how naive and excessively Romantic it is. 
None the less, its writer is in many ways superior to her 
surroundings. Not for nothing was she the daughter of the 
sober, sagacious Moses Mendelssohn. 

She would like, she says, to see Friedrich the literary 
artist, but she would love him better still if she could see 
in him the worthy citizen of a well-ordered state ; it seems 
to her, indeed, that the character and desires of all her 
revolutionary friends make literary occupations, reviewing 
and such-like, as unsuitable for them as a child's cradle for 
a giant : her ideal is Gotz von Berlichingen, who only took 
up the pen as a rest from the sword. 1 

Here again we are impressed by what strikes us in read- 
ing of Frau von Kalb, namely, that the women of this period 
display more virile and more concentrated power than the 
men, and that they persist in treating from the social stand- 
point questions which the men desire to treat only from the 
literary. They feel the oppression of existing circumstances 
more strongly, are less enervated by overmuch book-learning, 
and look at things more practically than the men. 

The first important event in the life of the young couple 
was Fichte's coming to live with them. Fichte had been 
accused of teaching atheism, and his position as a professor 
was in jeopardy. Caroline Schlegel writes to a friend : (i I 
must answer your questions about the Fichte affair, though 
it is a very painful one to me and to all admirers of honour- 
able, frank behaviour. You know pretty well yourself what 
to think of the first accusation, made by a bigoted sovereign 
and his counsellors, half of them Catholics, the rest Moravian 
Brethren. . . . But Fichte is so exasperated by all sorts 
of reports from Weimar, about things looking bad for him 
there, &c. &c, that he declares he will resign if they re- 
primand him, or put any restriction on his teaching. . . . 
All who would stand well at court, and the professors whom 
Fichte has outshone, denounce his boldness and precipitancy. 
He is abandoned, actually avoided." 

In a letter written jointly by Friedrich, Schleiermacher, 
and Dorothea, the last-mentioned says : " Things are going 

1 Haym, DU romantischc Schule, 509, 525, 663, &c 



" LUCINDE " IN REAL LIFE 89 

well with Fichte here ; he is left in peace. Nicolai has 
intimated that no notice whatever will be taken of him so 
long as he does not attempt to give public lectures ; this 
would not be well received. ... I get on excellently with 
Fichte, and feel as much at home in this gathering of 
philosophers as if I had never been accustomed to any- 
thing inferior. Though I am still a little timid, this has 
nothing to do with Fichte personally, but rather with my 
own position to the world and to Friedrich — I am afraid 
— yet possibly I am mistaken. I cannot write another word, 
dear, for my philosophers are pacing up and down the room 
so incessantly that I am quite giddy/ 1 

Here we have a little domestic scene from Dorothea's 
life in Berlin. The three were so comfortable together that 
Fichte was desirous to make the arrangement permanent. 
He writes to his wife that he is trying to persuade Friedrich 
to remain in Berlin, and August Wilhelm and his wife to 
remove there. " If my plan succeeds, the two Schlegels, 
Schelling, who must also be persuaded to come, and we our- 
selves will form one family, take a large house, have only one 
cook, &c, &c." l The plan was not carried out. The wives 
of the two Schlegels did not get on with each other. But 
is it not like a breath from another world to come, in 
the midst of all this solicitude for Fichte and indignation 
at the wrong done him, upon such a passage in one of 
Dorothea's letters as the following : " I heartily thank your 
mother for the sweet picture of the saint. I keep it where I 
can always see it. She is the very saint I should have chosen 
for myself ; she suits me exactly. These pictures and the 
Catholic music touch me so, that I am determined, if I 
become a Christian, to be a Catholic." 2 Nowhere is the 
religious confusion which distinguishes the Romantic School 
more plainly displayed. 

But Dorothea is not the only female portrait in Lucinde. 
During the course of his development Julius makes the 
acquaintance of an admirable woman, who is described as 
follows : " This disease was cured, was expelled, by the very 
first sight of a woman who was quite unique, and who was 

1 Caroline, u 254, 259, 261. f Caroling i. 393. 



go THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the first to exercise complete influence over his mind. . . . 
She had made her choice, and had given herself to one who 
was his friend as well as hers, and who was worthy of her 
love. Julius was the confidant. He knew exactly what it 
was that made him unhappy, and sternly judged his own 
baseness. • . • He forced all his love back into his 
inmost heart and let passion rage and burn and consume 
there. But his outward man was quite changed. So suc- 
cessful was he in counterfeiting the most childlike frankness 
and innocence, and in assuming a sort of fraternal brusque- 
ness to prevent his melting into tenderness, that she never 
entertained the slightest suspicion. She was gay and genial 
in her happiness ; suspecting nothing, she shunned nothing, 
but gave her mood and wit free play when she found him 
unamiable. All the nobility and all the grace, all the 
divinity and all the waywardness of the feminine character 
found in her their most refined, their most womanly ex- 
pression. Each quality was allowed to develop as freely 
and vigorously as if it were the only one ; and the daring 
mixture of dissimilar elements did not produce confusion, 
for a spirit inspired it which was a living breath of harmony 
and love. In the course of the same hour she would re- 
produce some comic episode with the refined abandon of 
the accomplished actress, and read a great poem with simple, 
touching dignity. At one time it pleased her fancy to shine 
and trifle in society, at another she was all enthusiasm and 
ardour, and presently she would be assisting others by word 
and deed, serious, unassuming, and gentle as a tender mother. 
Her manner of relating it made any trifling incident as enter- 
taining as a delightful fairy tale. She embellished everything 
with feeling and wit ; she had a power of comprehending 
everything, and of ennobling everything she touched. No- 
thing great or good was too holy or too common for her 
passionate sympathy. She understood the slightest sugges- 
tion, and answered even the question that was not asked. 
It was not possible to make long speeches to her ; they 
turned naturally into interesting conversations, during which 
an ever-varying music of intelligent glances and sweet 
expressions played over her delicate features. One seemed 



"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 91 

to see these glances and expressions while reading her letters, 
so lucidly and genially did she write, as if talking with her 
correspondent. Those who only knew this side of her 
might think that she was merely lovable, that she would 
make an enchanting actress, that nothing but metre ana 
rhyme were wanting to make her winged words exquisite 
poetry. But this same woman showed on every occasion 
that called for it the most astonishing courage and energy ; 
and it was from this side of her character, by her own heroic 
standard, that she judged men." 

There is more praise than art in this portrait. Sainte- 
Beuve would have given us a very different delineation. 
The original of the picture is a woman who, after the pub- 
lication of her letters under the title Caroline, was known, as 
if she had been a queen, only by this, her Christian name. 
It simplified matters, too, to designate her thus, for she had 
had so many surnames that it was difficult to know by which 
to call her. She was a daughter of the well-known German 
philologist, Michaelis ; her first husband was a Dr. Bohmer ; 
after his death she married A. W. Schlegel, and her third 
husband was Schelling. These two last marriages placed 
her in the centre of the Romantic circle, which seems 
naturally to group itself round her. She was its own 
special muse. Grier, the gifted translator of Calderon and 
Ariosto, says of her. that she is by far the cleverest woman 
he has known. Steffens and Wilhelm von Humboldt use 
similar expressions. A. W. Schlegel writes of several of his 
essays, that they are " in part the work of a highly gifted 
woman, who possessed all the qualifications of a successful 
author, but whose ambition did not lie in that direction." 
Schelling writes at the time of her death: "Even had she 
not been to me what she was, I should mourn the human 
being, should lament that this intellectual paragon no longer 
exists, this rare woman, who to masculine strength of soul 
and the keenest intellect united the tenderest, most womanly, 
most loving heart. We shall never see her like again." 
Her portrait is very striking — fascinating, refined, roguish, 
and yet tender. She is quite in Leonardo's style. Dorothea 
is far less complex. 

vol. 11. G 



92 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Caroline was born in 1763, and was twenty-one at the 
time of her first marriage. A. W. Schlegel made her ac- 
quaintance whilst he was a student at Gottingen, and fell in 
love with her, but she refused to marry him. Intercourse 
between them was broken off for a time, but was carried on 
by correspondence while Schlegel was at Amsterdam, where 
he went as a tutor in 1791. Here various amorous episodes, 
amongst them one serious love affair, threw Caroline for a 
time into the shade. Meanwhile, she was entangling herself 
in a net of the strangest relations. In 1799 s ^ e h a d gone 
to Mainz, where she lived in the house of Georg Forster, 
Humboldt's teacher, a man equally distinguished as a scientist 
and an author. When this gifted and admirable, but far too 
sanguine man, embarked on revolutionary enterprises and at- 
tempted to extend French republicanism to the Rhine districts, 
Caroline enthusiastically aided and abetted him. She was 
in communication with the members of the Republican Club 
in Mainz, and she was unjustly suspected of communicating 
with the enemy through her brother-in-law, G. Bohmer, who 
was Custine's secretary. When Mainz was reconquered by 
the German troops, she was arrested, and spent several 
months in barbarous imprisonment, sharing a room with 
seven other people. From prison she wrote to A. W. 
Schlegel for assistance. 

Her position was even worse than it appeared to be. 
In Mainz, in desperation at the disappointment of her dearest 
hopes (she had expected that the manly, energetic Tatter 
would offer her his hand), she had thrown herself into the 
arms of her adorer for the moment, a Frenchman, and the 
results of this connection would inevitably compromise her 
for ever, if she were not freed from prison in time. Schlegel's 
influence and her own brother's unremitting endeavours 
procured her release. With quiet chivalry August Wilhelm 
placed Caroline, now forsaken by all her other friends, 
under the protection of his younger brother, Friedrich. It 
was in these singularly unpropitious circumstances that 
Friedrich made her acquaintance. He was by no means 
prepossessed in her favour, in fact, was inclined to look 
upon her with contempt ; yet this is how he writes : " I had 



"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 93 

certainly not expected simplicity and a positively divine 
truthfulness. . . • She made a profound impression upon 
me. I longed to be in a position to win her confidence and 
friendship ; but the moment she showed some return of 
the feeling I saw very clearly that the bare attempt would 
lead to the most painful struggles, and that if a friendship 
between us were possible at all, it could only be the fruit 
of much that was unjustifiable. . • . Thenceforward every 
selfish desire was abandoned. The relation in which I 
stood to her was perfectly innocent and simple. In my 
behaviour there was the reverence of a son, the candour of 
a brother, the frankness of a child, and the unobtrusiveness 
of a stranger." * 

In 1796 A. W. Schlegel married his somewhat deeply 
compromised friend. Her circle soon included all the lead- 
ing men of the day. She was in constant intercourse with 
Goethe, Herder, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Tieck, Schleier- 
macher, and Hardenberg. This was the time of Goethe's 
intimate connection with the young school. It was in the 
process of formation, and its members held their first meet- 
ings at Jena. Caroline breakfasts with Goethe, dines with 
Fichte, and is soon only too inseparable from Schelling. 

The following extract from one of her letters to Schelling 
(March 1, 1801) affords an example of the vigour and the 
subtlety of this remarkable woman's criticism : " You surely 
do not expect me, dearest friend, to enlighten you as to the 
compass of Fichte's mind, though you almost express yourself 
as if you did. It has always seemed to me as if, in spite of 
his incomparable reasoning powers, the soundness of his 
deductions, his lucidity and accuracy, his direct intuition of 
the Ego, and his discoverer's enthusiasm — as if in spite of all 
this he were limited. My explanation of the matter is, that 
the divine spark is lacking in him ; and if you have broken 
through a circle from which he has not been able to escape, 
I believe that you have done it not so much as the philo- 
sopher — don't scold me if I am using the word wrongly — 
but rather because there is poetry in you and none in 
him. Poetical inspiration led you directly to productiveness ; 

1 Car*Un % L 347, 34& 



94 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY ^ 

keenness oi apprehension led him to knowledge. He has 
light, the clearest and brightest, but you have warmth as 
well ; and light can only illuminate, while warmth produces. 
Now, have I not seen all this cleverly ? — just as one sees a 
boundless landscape through a keyhole." 

In another letter we find an amusing reference to Hegel, 
which shows us that philosopher in a novel light : il Hegel 
is playing the beau and general gallant" (Hegel macht den 
Galanten und allgemeinen Cicisbeo). 1 

Caroline shares enthusiastically in all the efforts of the 
Romantic School ; she revises, reviews anonymously, writes 
herself, influences other writers directly and indirectly. She 
is obliged to expend that politico-revolutionary ardour, of 
which she possesses a far larger share than the men, on 
literary skirmishes and intrigues. We find her, for instance, 
writing an anonymous and tolerably sharp review of Schlegel's 
Ion; Schlegel replies, also anonymously, criticising her criti- 
cism ; then Caroline calls Schelling to her assistance, and 
he, acting as her champion, falls upon Schlegel still more 
heavily in a third anonymous article, written in an ex- 
tremely polished manner — at the same time writing privately 
to him that he hopes he will not take it amiss. It is to Caro- 
line that the misunderstanding and final rupture between 
Schiller and Schlegel is due ; she sets the brothers against 
the poet by her extremely witty but unfair mockery of his 
style ; Schiller, on his side, cannot be acquitted of having 
treated them with considerable haughtiness at the beginning 
of their literary career. His name for Caroline is " Dame 
Lucifer." 

Caroline's worst side was displayed in her small-minded 
hatred of poor Dorothea Veit, whom she positively perse- 
cuted. This hatred disturbed the beautiful relation between 
August Wilhelm and Friedrich, who were intimate friends as 
well as brothers. At one time it threatened to separate 
them altogether. Observe the way in which she speaks of 
Dorothea: "Friedrich was present at the performance of 
Alarkosy and immediately afterwards got into a post-chaise 
and set off for France, where it is his intention to be married 

1 Carding, ii. X 



" LUCINDE " IN REAL LIFE 95 

in republican fashion. Under Robespierre, drowning 
in the Loire went by the name of noces rfpublicaines ; 
such a wedding for one half of the couple I should not 
object to." 

Her best qualities were called forth by her daughter, that 
remarkable child, Auguste Bohmer, whose name, although 
she died at the age of fifteen, has a place in the history of 
German literature. All who read this child's criticism of 
Friedrich or of Dorothea, or her rhymed letters to Tieck 
and Schleiermacher, are astounded by her precociousness. 
Her death was a turning-point in Caroline's life. Schelling, 
who very possibly had been first attracted by the daughter, 
drew nearer to the mother in her sudden and sad bereave- 
ment. He was then quite young, labouring ardently at his 
earliest works, glowing with passion, sparkling with genius, 
the favourite of Goethe. Caroline and he had a great com- 
mon sorrow and need of consolation. Their feeling for 
each other soon assumed the character of passionate love. 
The publication by the unscrupulous opponents of the 
Romanticists of a pamphlet in which it was asserted that 
Schelling, with his crazy Naturphilosophie and the treatment 
he had recommended, had shortened the child's life, only 
drew them closer together. The charge was a pure fabri- 
cation. It was in his reply to this pamphlet that Schelling 
made use of the violent language quoted in the introduc- 
tion to Lassalle's Capital and Labour. Caroline's relations 
with Schlegel had long been of the coldest ; he and she 
lived in different towns. Had she been of a jealous dis- 
position, she would have found abundant cause for com- 
plaint. After his separation from Caroline, Schlegel formed 
a connection with Tieck's sister, Sophie Bernhardi, who 
divorced her husband for his sake. His last attempt at 
marriage, with the daughter of Paulus, the rationalist, was 
not a success, and ended in a divorce. 

When Schelling and Caroline had become so indispen- 
sable to each other that it was necessary to break thr 
which bound her to Schlegel, the latter, with perfect chr 
gave his consent. Writing of the divorce, n — We 
" We broke a tie which neither of us had 



96 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

permanently binding." l Her new marriage was a perfectly 
happy one. 

The way in which Schlegel takes Caroline's decision 
enlightens us not only as to the theories of the Romanticists, 
but as to the manner in which the leaders of the school 
applied them in their own lives. August Wilhelm not only 
gives his consent, but continues to keep up a friendly corre- 
spondence with Schelling, and in literary matters the two 
men render each other valuable assistance. Caroline herself 
maintains the friendliest relations with Schlegel long after 
he is aware of the relation in which she stands to Schelling. 
She writes to him in May 1801 : "Will you, please, decide 
a dispute between Schelling and me ? Are these hexameters 
(Schelling's) worth anything? I consider the last lines 
awkward, but he maintains that they are good." Schlegel 
actually visited the couple at Munich, in company with 
Madame de Stagl. 

Thus even very serious personal disagreements and 
ruptures could not divide those whom fellowship of ideas 
and a common endeavour to promote them, united. The 
Romanticists considered personal liberty an inalienable right, 
and respected it in others while demanding it for themselves. 

But we learn something else besides the fact that 
the Romanticists were very changeable in their loves, and 
perfectly regardless of social ties ; and that something is, 
that their women were superior to them in everything but 
talent, and that what the men did was to drag them 
down to their own level. We see the strong-minded, ener- 
getic Dorothea, who is so keenly sensible of the pettiness of 
the purely literary endeavours of the Romanticists, slowly 
change, see her reluctantly admire Lucinde, then write novels 
herself in the prescribed style, and finally follow Friedrich 
to Vienna and become a Catholic along with him. Or look 
at the high-spirited, enthusiastic, resolute Caroline, who, as 
a young widow not much over twenty, attempts to revolu- 
tionise the Rhineland. So unflinching is she then, that 
she compromises herself recklessly, and risks the life and 
well-being of those dearest to her with absolute regardless- 

1 Caroline, ii. 237. 



"LUCINDE" IN REAL LIFE 97 

ness. Friedrich writes to August Wilhelm : " I shall never 
forgive her heartlessness in being ready to beguile you, her 
friend, into that vortex of ignoble dangers and worthless 
characters." Only a few years later we see this same woman 
writing anonymous reviews, favourable or unfavourable, of 
her husband's wretched dramas, and entirely absorbed in 
literary intrigues. Ever and anon her spirit is momentarily 
stirred by a breath wafted from the old times. Then 
we feel how changed she is. Writing to her daughter 
in October 1799, after giving her a quantity of family 
news, the last item of which is : " Hofrath Huf eland has 
returned, with wife and children," she exclaims: "But 
what sorry trash is all this! Buonaparte is in Paris! 
Think of that, child! All will go well again. The 
Russians have been driven out of Switzerland ; they and 
the English will be obliged to capitulate with disgrace in 
Holland ; the French are making way in Swabia ; and 
now comes Buonaparte. Rejoice with me, or I shall think 
that you are entirely taken up with frivolities and have no 
serious thoughts at all." Then, almost in the same breath, 
literary gossip : 4t Tieck is here and we are much together. 
You would never believe all that these men take it into their 
heads to do. I will send you a sonnet on Merkel. He has 
been running about Berlin, telling that the Schlegels have 
received a reprimand from the Duke on account of the 
Athenaeum, &c. So Wilhelm and Tieck set to work the other 
evening and wrote a wicked sonnet in his honour. It was 
splendid to see the two pairs of brown eyes flashing at each 
other, and the wild merriment with which the perfectly 
justifiable squib was concocted. Dorothea and I almost 
rolled on the floor with laughter. She knows how to laugh, 
which will recommend her to you. Merkel is done for ; he 
will never recover it. There will be a terrible uproar. . . . 
Schelling is attacking the Allgctncine Litieraturzeitung with 
all his might. These quarrels, however, are of no importance 
to you; but Buonaparte and the Russians most certainly are" 
It is as though she strove to keep the larger interests 
alive in her daughter, feeling that they were dying in her- 
self. Soon she marries Schelling, and conforms to all the 



98 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

established conventions of that great clerical stronghold, 
Bavaria. 

Many great men have vainly attempted to teach the women 
they loved to share their interests. To my mind no worse 
accusation can be brought against gifted men, no surer sign 
of their weakness adduced than this, that, far from raising 
the women who have given themselves to them and followed 
them, they have dragged them down, taken from them their 
highest interests and noblest sympathies, and given them 
small and mean ones in exchange. From such a charge 
the Romanticists cannot free themselves. They treated the 
great women given them by the gods as they did the great 
ideas which were their own heritage ; they took from them 
the noble, liberal-minded social and political enthusiasm by 
which they were naturally characterised, and made them, 
first Romantic and literary, then remorseful, and finally 
Catholic. ^ #*4Vt*4+t ' 



VIII 

SCHLEIERMACHER'S LETTERS 

The Romanticists themselves were by no means satisfied 
with Lucinde. Novalis has most to say in its favour. He 
is of opinion that there are few such personal books ; it 
seems to him that in it all the workings of the author's 
mind may be observed as distinctly as the play of chemical 
forces during the dissolution of a lump of sugar in a glass 
of water. He is somewhat disturbed by the species of v 
delusion prevailing throughout the work, which makes man, \ 
the thinking being, a mere natural force, and which takes j 
such possession of the reader that he finds himself deeply > 
interested in what is simply sensual instinct. Moreover, the 
whole is not simple enough, not sufficiently free from 
pedantry. Yet "Romantic chords" are not lacking, and 
it is not so much the matter as the form to which he 
objects. 

He writes at once to Caroline Schlegel : " There is 
nothing to object to in the ideas, but in the manner of 
expressing them there is a good deal which strikes me as 
being borrowed from Krates [the cynic]. The cry, i Be 
cynical!' is not yet heard among us, and even really advanced 
women will blame the beautiful Athenian for having made 
the market-place her bridal chamber." 

Quite true ; only it was not the luckless Dorothea who 
was to blame for the profanation, even though she did not 
feel incensed by the public exhibition, as we do on her 
behalf ; her lord and master was alone to blame. 

We have seen that Caroline soon allowed her satirical 
wit free play in writing of Lucinde; and A. W. Schlegel, 
Schelling, Steffens, and the others privately regarded it as 
an enfant terrible, whatever their public utterances may 

99 



/ 



/ 



ioo THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

have been. A. W. Schlegel indeed wrote, in a sonnet to 
Friedrich : — 

M Dich fiihrt zur Dichtung Andacht briinsfger Liebe, 
Du willst zum Tempel dir das Leben bilden, 
Wo G6tterrecht die Freiheit 16s* und binde. 
Und dass ohn' Opfer der Altar nicht bliebe, 
Entfuhrtest Du den himmlischen Gefilden, 
Die hohe Gluth der leuchtenden Lucinde." l 

And when Kotzebue published the comedy, Der hyperbordische 
Esel } which satirises Friedrich and his book, August Wilhelm 
responded with the witty satire, Ehrenpforte fUr den Pr&sidenten 
von Kotzebue; but privately he called the book a u foolish rhap- 
sody." Tieck called it "eine wunderliche Chimare," and 
even Schleiermacher attempted to disavow his authorship of 
the Letters on the Subject of Lucinde, after his inclination to a 
species of sensual mysticism had given place to a Protestant- 
rationalistic tendency. Nevertheless, or rather, for this very 
reason, it is of importance that we should inquire into the 
nature of these letters, which were written with the aim of 
proving Lucinde to be, not merely an innocent, but a good 
and holy book, the worth of which is testified to by the 
delight which high-minded women take in it. On the letters 
of two such women, his sister, Ernestine, and his friend, 
Eleonore Grunow, Schleiermacher's own are based. 

There is little of general interest for us nowadays in 
these letters, so we shall only notice their salient points. As 
Lucinde is the solitary contribution of Romanticism towards 
the solution of a social problem, and as marriage is almost 
the only social question grappled with by literature generally 
at the beginning of the century (Goethe's Wanderjahre alone, 
in the manner of Rousseau's romances, occupying itself with 
a wider range of such questions), it will be of interest to 
compare the utterances of the different European literatures 
on this subject. 

Schleiermacher's book is an attack upon prudery. At 

1 It is the sacred ardour of love that makes of thee a poet ; thou aimest at trans- 
forming life into a temple, where divine right binds and looses. And that the altar 
may not lack a victim, thou hast stolen from heaven the noble ardour of the 
glorious Lucinde. 



SCHLEIERMACHER'S LETTERS 101 

the very beginning he writes : " I was almost inclined to be- 
lieve that you had become a prude ; if you had, I should 
have entreated you to go and settle in England, to which 
country I should like to banish the whole genus." And one 
division of the book is entirely devoted to an analysis of that 
false modesty which precludes true modesty, and causes so 
much unnecessary misery. 

" The anxious and narrow-minded modesty by which 
society at the present day is characterised, has its root in 
the consciousness of a great and general wrongheadedness and 
depravity. But where is it to end ? It is bound to spread 
farther and farther. If people are perpetually on the look- 
out for what is immodest, they will end by discovering it in 
every domain of thought, and all conversation and social 
intercourse must cease. . . . utter depravation and the 
perfect education by which man returns to innocence, both 
do away with modesty ; in the first case true modesty, as 
well as false, is destroyed ; in the second, it ceases to be a 
thing to which much attention is paid or much importance 
attached. 1 

11 Is it not the case, dear child, that everything spiritual 
in man has its beginning in an instinctive, vague, inward 
impulse, which only the action of the individual, frequently 
repeated, develops into definite, conscious will and a per- 
fected faculty. Not until they have developed so far can 
there be any question of a lasting connection between these 
inward impulses and definite objects. Why should love be 
different from everything else ? Is it reasonable to expect 
the highest faculty of man to be perfect from the first? 
Should it be easier to love than to eat and drink ? Surely 
in love too there must be preparatory attempts, from which 
nothing permanent results, but which all tend to make the 
feeling more distinct and more noble. The connection of 
these attempts with any definite object is merely accidental, 
at first often purely imaginary, and always ephemeral — as 
ephemeral as the feeling itself, which soon gives place to 
one more clearly defined and intense. Inquire of the most 
mature and highly cultivated men and women ; you will find 

1 Brief* uber die Luctnde, pp. 64, 83. 



I 



102 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

that they smile at the thought of their first love as at any 
other laughable childish performance, and often live in 
complete indifference side by side with the object of it. 
According to the nature of things it must be so, and to insist 
upon faithfulness and a lasting connection is as dangerous 
as it is foolish. 1 ' 

Schleiermacher naturally warns his correspondent against 
what he calls the chimera of the holiness of first love : " Do 
not believe that everything depends upon something coming of 
it. The novels which support this idea, and make love between 
the same two beings develop uninterruptedly from its first 
raw beginning to its highest perfection, are as hurtful as they 
are silly ; and their authors, as a rule, have as little under- 
standing of love as they have of art. . . . When the more 
or less indefinite love longing settles upon a definite object, 
there necessarily arises a definite connection, and a point of 
closest approach. When this point has been reached and 
you feel that it is not the right one, not one that can be held, 
what is there left for you to do but to part again ? Only 
after such an attempt has been completed as an attempt, that 
is to say, after the connection has been broken off, can the 
memory of it and reflection upon it produce a truer under- 
standing of the longing and feeling, and thus prepare for 
another and better attempt. Is there any obligation to make 
the next with the same person? Upon what can such an 
obligation be founded ? I, for my part, consider this more un- 
natural than love between brother and sister. Allow yourself 
perfect liberty, then ; endeavouring only to preserve a pure- 
minded, clear feeling that it is merely an experiment, so that 
you may be prevented from sanctioning and perpetuating that 
which is not intended to be more, by that self-surrender 
which, from its nature, ought to mark the end of experiments 
and the beginning of a true and lasting love. Such a mis- 
take, which is both the consequence and the cause of the 
most miserable delusions, you must regard as the most 
terrible thing that can happen to you ; I would have you 
understand that this is in reality allowing one's self to be 
seduced. When you have found true love, and feel your- 
self to have reached the point at which you can perfect your 




8CHLEIKBMACHEB 



c^v> 






SCHLEIERMACHER'S LETTERS 103 

character and make your life beautiful and worthy, diffidence 
and fear of the last and most precious seal of union will 
seem to you pure affectation. The only danger lies in the 
fact that every attempt, from its very nature, aims at reach* 
ing this point. The point of sufficiency can only be dis- 
covered by satiety. But if you are healthy in mind and 
heart, you will, as often as one of these attempts to love 
approaches this point, feel an aversion which is something 
far higher and holier than any law, or than what generally 
goes by the name of modesty and chastity." 

Sound and sensible reflections, one and all, but neither 
exhaustive nor applicable to what are the real difficulties of 
the case. Schleiermacher warns against mistakes, but cannot 
remedy them, without infringing upon the sanctity of mar- 
riage, which he never calls in question. For what is to be 
done when the mistake has already been made ? And what 
when it has been on one side only, when only the love of 
the one has grown cold, while that of the other still endures ? 
And he does not give a word or a thought to the fact that 
marriage, as a social institution, does not exist for the sake of 
the lovers, that its original intention was to secure the father's 
property for the children, and that it has continued to exist 
because it seemed to society the only means of protecting the 
rising generation. Schleiermacher, the idealist, would fain 
discover a new moral foundation, and entirely overlooks the 
real, the practical difficulties. How characteristic of the 
nation to which the author belongs is all this pondering over 
feeling ! An Italian once said to me : " What astonishes us 
most in the emotional life of the Teutonic nations is their 
conception and cult of love. With them love is positively a 
religion, something in which a good man is bound to believe. 
And this religion has its theology, and its philosophy, and 
what not. We simply love, and no more about it." I 
thought of this speech when reading Schleiermacher. How 
much ingenuity he exhibits in proving that men should not 
allow themselves to be disturbed by false theories when they 
love, and what a steadfast belief in the love which is to 
" complete and perfect the character," lies at the foundation 
of it all ! It is instructive to compare with Schleiermacher's 



104 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

some utterances by great authors of other nations on the 
same subject ; they throw what is peculiarly national in his 
into more marked relief. 

George Sand, whose first novels are the expression of 
the same movement in France which Lucinde inaugurates in 
Germany, says, by the mouth of the principal characters in 
Jacques and Lucrezia Floriani: " Paul and Virginia were able 
to love each other steadily and undisturbedly; for they were 
children brought up by the same mother. Our surroundings 
have been too utterly unlike. ... If two beings are to under- 
stand each other always, and to be united by an unchange- 
able love, their characters as children must have been formed 
by a similar education, they must have the same beliefs, the 
same turn of mind, even the same manners and habits. But 
we, the distressed offspring of a turbulent and corrupt society, 
which behaves to her disunited children like a stepmother, and 
is more cruel in her periods of savagery than actual savages 
are, how can we wonder, after such great outward divisions, 
at the perpetual divisions of hearts and the impossibility of 
inward harmony." 

Obviously George Sand is considerably less persuaded 
than Schleiermacher of the probability or possibility of the 
individual's meeting with that " right one," love for whom 
perfects. Jacques says : "lam still persuaded that marriage 
is one of the most barbarous institutions of society. I doubt not 
that it will be abolished when the human race makes further 
, progress towards justice and reason; a more human and not 
1 less sacred tie will take its place and will ensure the well- 
being of the children without fettering the freedom of the 
parents. But as yet men are too barbarous and women too 
cowardly to demand a nobler law than the iron one by which 
they are now ruled. Beings destitute of conscience and 
virtue need heavy chains. The improvements of which some 
generous spirits dream, cannot be realised in such an age 
as ours; these spirits forget that they are a hundred years in 
advance of their contemporaries, and that before they change 
the law, they must change mankind." Jacques says to his 
bride on their wedding day : " Society is about to dictate an 
h to you. You are about to swear to be faithful and 



SCHLEIERMACHER'S LETTERS 105 

obedient to me, that is to say, never to love any one but 
me, and to obey me in all things. One of these vows is an 
absurdity, the other a disgrace." 

The idea expressed by George Sand in all these books is, 
that to preserve the outward semblance of love, by caresses, 
&c, after it has ceased to exist, is what constitutes real im- 
morality in love. Jacques says : " I have never forced my 
imagination to rekindle or reanimate a feeling in my soul 
which I no longer found there. I have never looked upon love 
as a duty, constancy as a role. When I have felt that love 
was extinguished in my soul I have said so, without being 
either ashamed or conscience-stricken." And Lucrezia Floriani 
says, still more emphatically : " Not one of all the passions to 
which I have yielded naively and blindly, seemed to me so 
guilty as the one which I was endeavouring, contrary to my 
feeling, to make lasting." 

The French authoress looks upon unchangeable love for 
one and the same person as a possibility only, dependent 
upon certain conditions ; and her idea of love is not, like 
Schleiermacher's, that it is the highest educational force, but 
that, as an irresistible natural force, a possessing passion, it is 
beautiful, the most beautiful thing in life. Institutions must 
adapt themselves to it, since it cannot change its nature to 
suit institutions. A disciple of Rousseau, she champions the 
cause of nature. 

Let us now glance at one of the works of a contemporary 
English writer of the same tendencies, at Shelley's Queen Mab. 
In the notes he has appended to this poem we come upon 
a third variation of the opposition to prevailing opinions. 
Shelley says : il Love is inevitably consequent upon the 
perception of loveliness. Love withers under constraint: 
its very essence is liberty: it is compatible neither with 
obedience, jealousy, nor fear : it is there most pure, perfect, 
and unlimited, where its votaries live in confidence, equality, 
and unreserve. ... A husband and wife ought to continue 
so long united as they love each other : any law which should 
bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay 
of their affection would be a most intolerable tyranny, and 
the most unworthy of toleration. How odious an usurpation 



106 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

of the right of private judgment should that law be considered 
which should make the ties of friendship indissoluble, in spite 
of the caprices, the inconstancy, the fallibility, and capacity 
for improvement of the human mind. And by so much 
would the fetters of love be heavier and more unendurable 
than those of friendship, as love is more vehement and 
capricious, more dependent on those delicate peculiarities of 
imagination, and less capable of reduction to the ostensible 
merits of the object. . . . Love is free : to promise for ever 
to love the same woman is not less absurd than to promise 
to believe the same creed. . . . The present system of con- 
straint does no more, in the majority of instances, than make 
hypocrites or open enemies. Persons of delicacy and virtue, 
unhappily united to one whom they find it impossible to 
love, spend the loveliest season of their life in unproductive 
efforts to appear otherwise than they are, for the sake of the 
feelings of their partner or the welfare of their mutual off- 
spring : those of less generosity and refinement openly avow 
their disappointment, and linger out the remnant of that union, 
which only death can dissolve, in a state of incurable bicker- 
ing and hostility. The early education of their children takes 
its colour from the squabbles of the parents ; they are nursed 
in a systematic school of ill-humour, violence, and falsehood. 
. . . The conviction that wedlock is indissoluble holds out 
the strongest of all temptations to the perverse : they indulge 
without restraint in acrimony, and all the little tyrannies of 
domestic life, when they know that their victim is without 
appeal. . . . Prostitution is the legitimate offspring of 
marriage and its accompanying errors. Women, for no other 
crime than having followed the dictates of a natural appetite, 
are driven with fury from the comforts and sympathies of 
society. It is less venial than murder. . . . Has a woman 
obeyed the instincts of unerring nature (sic /), society declares 
war against her, pitiless and eternal war: she must be the 
tame slave, she must make no reprisals ; theirs is the right of 
persecution, hers the duty of endurance. She lives a life of 
infamy : the loud and bitter laugh of scorn scares her from 
all return. She dies of long and lingering disease : yet she is 
in fault, she is the criminal, and society the pure and virtuous 



SCHLEIERMACHERS LETTERS 107 

matron, who casts her as an abortion from her undefiled 
bosom! . . • Young men, excluded by the fanatical idea of chas- 
tity from the society of modest and accomplished women, 
associate with these vicious and miserable beings. . . . 
Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater 
foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality ; 
it strikes at the root of all domestic happiness, and consigns 
more than half of the human race to misery, that some few 
may monopolise according to law. A system could not well 
have been devised more studiously hostile to human happi- 
ness than marriage. I conceive that from the abolition of 
marriage the fit and natural arrangement of sexual intercourse 
would result. I by no means assert that the intercourse 
would be promiscuous : on the contrary, it appears, from the 
relation of parent to child, that this union is generally of 
long duration, and marked above all others with generosity 
and self-devotion. ... In fact, religion and morality, as they 
now stand, compose a practical code of misery and servitude : 
the genius of human happiness must tear every leaf from the 
accursed book of God ere man can read the inscription on 
his heart. How would morality, dressed up in stiff stays 
and finery, start from her own disgusting image, should she 
look in the mirror of nature 1 " 

Here again we have appeals to nature ; but the stand- 
point is an entirely different one. Shelley, the enthusiastic 
atheist, attributes the principal miseries of social humanity 
to traditional religion. "Unerring" nature is the divinity 
he substitutes for the God of the Bible. He considers that 
man has the right to demand happiness, and, like a true 
Englishman, contends, without troubling much about the 
psychology of the matter, for the freedom of the individual 
from the compulsion of external law. Schleiermacher warns 
against what is foolish, because, once the foolish step is taken, 
it is binding ; but he, the Protestant pastor, only indirectly 
incites to revolt. George Sand rebels against what is dis- 
honourable. In the ethical creed of the French authoress 
honour plays the same part that wisdom does in Schleier- 
macher's ; it is by the mouth of Jacques, her ideal of manly 
honour, that she protests in the name of the honour of 

VOL. 11. H 



108 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

humanity. Shelley stands forth as the champion of personal 
liberty ; it is thraldom that he desires to abolish. The Eng- 
lish apostle of liberty, soon to be an exile, unhesitatingly 
attacks the institutions of society. George Sand never 
directly attacked marriage. She actually says in the intro- 
duction to Mauprat: " It is husbands I have attacked, and 
if I am asked what I propose to substitute for them, I answer 
— marriage." But Shelley, who takes cognisance of all 
evils from the social and political standpoint, proposes to 
improve humanity by legislation, being persuaded that the 
state is bound to secure as much liberty of action as possible 
to the individual as citizen. 

It is obvious that, of these three representatives of the 
same idea, Schleiermacher is the most profound thinker and 
the most reserved. In his estimation character is of the first 
importance, in George Sand's, the heart, and in Shelley's, 
happiness. These three great writers are the spokesmen of 
three great nations, and by comparing them we are better 
able to understand the character of the whole movement 
which begins at the beginning of the century, but which 
can neither settle into shape nor produce good and tranquil- 
lising results until the intellectual and social emancipation of 
woman has advanced so far that she is independent of social 
prejudices, knows her own needs, and is in a position to 
supply them. 



IX 
WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 

In his Letters on Lucinde, Schleiermacher, the high-minded 
and honourable, brought all his intelligence to bear upon 
the task of finding something complete, something sensible, 
in the book. He read his personal opinions into it. But 
his position was a false one. He was trying, by means 
of the discussion of an unreal book, to settle a real question, 
trying to base a freer, higher moral code upon a work 
which, instead of doing what it professed to do, namely, 
proving the possibility of transforming life into poetry, 
simply retailed the fantastic performances of a few talented 
individuals, interspersing reflections on the poetry in a wild, 
extravagant reality. 

Lucinde was hollow at the core. And this hollow, empty 
idealism is a feature common to all the many ramifica- 
tions of Romanticism. Goethe's Prometheus cries to Zeus : 
"Didst thou imagine that I would loathe life, that I would 
flee into the wilderness, because all my dream-blossoms did 
not mature ? " Thus speaks a Prometheus, thus a Goethe. 
But it was only natural that this emotional, inactive young 
generation should produce a group of authors who, just 
because "all their dream-blossoms did not mature," in des- 
perate dissatisfaction with reality grasped at empty air and 
pursued shadows, which they obstinately persisted in trying 
to endow with corporeal existence, maintaining that art and 
poetry and their element and organ, imagination, are alone 
essential and living, but that all else (in other words, real 
life) is, as vulgar prose, meaningless, nay evil, in the eyes of 
genius. 1 

And yet the earliest preachers of this new doctrine wr 

1 Hettaer, DU romantuch* Schult, 48. 
109 



J 



no THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

far from being wild or defiant. The first countenance which 
meets our gaze is, on the contrary, peculiarly gentle, one of 
the purest and mildest in all modern literature — the pale, 
noble face of Wackenroder. 

The Romantic enthusiasm for art first found expression 
in a delicate little work from the pen of an ardent youth, 
whose life was shortened by the conflict between his burning 
desire to live for art, and the obligation laid upon him by 
his father to pursue a practical calling. He died, his powers 
entirely exhausted, in his twenty-fifth year. His life was like 
the mild, gentle breeze, which on a day in the early spring 
warms the air, and tempts forth the first flowers. His letters 
to Tieck, who was his intimate friend, and for whom he had 
an unbounded admiration, reveal an almost girlish affection 
for that more virile and notable man. 

In every library of any importance one is sure to find 
a small, beautifully printed and bound book, published in 
1797, entitled Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Kloster- 
bruders (" Heart Outpourings of an Art-Loving Friar "). The 
author's name is not given. As vignette there is a head of 
Raphael, who, with the great eyes, full lips, and slender neck 
given him in this portrait, looks like some highly intellectual 
Christian devotee of Venus, far advanced in consumption. 
The inscription below the picture is not simply Raphael, but 
" the divine Raphael," ue. the Raphael of the Romanticists. 
This dainty little book is, as it were, the primary cell of the 
whole Romantic structure ; round it the later productions 
group themselves. Though not the offspring of a vigorous 
creative power, its germinative force proved wonderfully 
great. It is a book which contains nothing but ivy-like, 
twining ideas, nothing but passive impressions ; but the wax 
upon which these impressions are stamped is so pure that the 
impressions are firm and clear. The title does not mislead ; 
the author pours out his heart in a stream of fervent and 
religious enthusiasm for art, giving expression to a few simple 
ideas in a simple, untheoretical manner. The book is not 
the product of a great or epoch-making mind; but it has 
one great virtue, it is original. To the Friar the only allow- 
able attitude towards art is that of devotion ; great artists 



WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 1 1 1 

are in his eyes blessed, holy saints* His admiration for 
them is that of an adoring child. 

More than once in the course of the book Tieck has 
collaborated with Wackenroder; but the simple autobiog- 
raphy of the young musician, Joseph Berglinger, is entirely 
Wackenroder's work. The delicate refinement of Berglinger's 
character reminds us of Joseph Delorme, the fictitious per- 
sonage in whom the young, Romantic, Sainte-Beuve described 
himself. Berglinger is Wackenroder. Like Wackenroder 
he opposes the determination of his father that he is not to 
become an artist, and simultaneously carries on an even 
harder struggle with himself in the matter of his position 
towards art. What troubles him is a fear, which curiously 
enough meets young Romanticism here on the very thres- 
hold, like the shadow of its fate, the fear of being in- 
capacitated for real life by too entire absorption in art. 
Riickert has given masterly expression to the idea in the 
following lines : — 

" Die Kinder, lieber Sohn, dcr Gaukelschwertverschlucker 
In Madras iiben sich nicht an Confekt und Zucker, 
Von Bambus lernen sie die Spitzen zu verschlingen, 
Um wachsend in der Kunst es bis zum Schwert zu bringen. 
Willst Du als Mann das Schwert der Wissenschaft verdaun, 
Musst Du als J tingling nicht Kunstzuckerbrodchen kaun." l 

Joseph expresses it thus : Art is a tempting, forbidden 
fruit ; he who has once tasted its sweet, innermost juice is 
irrevocably lost to the acting, living world. The soul which 
art has enervated is perplexed and helpless face to face 
with reality. Joseph himself is only delivered from this 
distressing mental condition when glorious music raises him 
high above the troubles of this earth. But he is at the 
mercy of his moods, and fittingly likens his soul to the 
" iEolian harp, whose strings vibrate to a breath that comes 
one knows not whence, and on which the changing breezes 

1 " The children of those Indian jugglers who swallow swords do not, my son, 
learn the art by gulping down confectionery ; they are trained to swallow the sharp 
points of the bamboo, and by degrees arrive at swords. If it be your desire, 
as a man, to digest the sword of science, you must not, as a youth, feed on art 
confectionery." 



112 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

play at will." Music was the art Wackenroder loved and 
understood best ; in his posthumous Fancies on the Subject 
of Art he places it above all the others. 

Wackenroder resembled Novalis in constitution, but had 
even less capacity for resistance to the storms of life. He 
was good-natured and credulous to a degree, with a genuine 
Romantic credulity, which saw mysteries and miracles every* 
where. This inclination of his led to practical jokes being 
played upon him by his comrades — though they too were 
all more or less liable to hallucinations and disposed to put 
faith in miracles. An account of one such trick has been 
preserved, such an anecdote as only the biography of a 
Romanticist could supply. Indeed, to understand the 
theories of the Romanticists, it is necessary to see the 
men themselves in their everyday life and at their desks. — 
Wackenroder was a diligent student, and never willingly 
missed a lecture. Two of his less conscientious friends went 
to his room during the hour of a certain lecture, knowing 
that he would be absent, and tied a dog, in a sitting posture, 
to the chair in front of the writing-table. Both paws were 
carefully placed on a huge folio which lay open on the 
table. The clever animal, accustomed to such performances, 
sat quietly in this ludicrous position while the two friends 
hid in an adjoining room to watch the development of their 
plot. Returning earlier than usual to fetch some papers he 
had forgotten, Wackenroder stood motionless with astonish- 
ment, gazing at the dog and its learned occupation. Fear- 
ful of neglecting his duty, and unwilling to put an end to 
the marvellous apparition, he gently lifted his papers from 
the table and left the room. In the evening, no one else 
seeming inclined to talk, he suddenly broke the silence by 
saying impressively: "Friends, I must tell you a most 
marvellous thing. Our Stallmeister (the dog) can read." l 

Does not this read like a scene from Tieck's Puss in Boots 
or Hoffmann's story of the dog Berganza ? Do not these 
books, grotesquely unreal as they are, seem actual tran- 
scripts from the private lives of the Romanticists? In 
Kater Murr, the cat says : " Nothing in my master's room 

» Kdpkc: TiecVs Lebm, L 177. 



WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 113 

attracted me more than the writing-table, which was strewn 
with books, manuscripts, and all manner of remarkable 
instruments. I might call this table the magic circle into 
which I was irresistibly drawn, all the time feeling a kind 
of holy awe, which prevented me from at once yielding to 
my inclination. At last, one day, when my master was 
absent, I overcame my fear and sprang upon the table. 
What joy to sit in the midst of the papers and books and 
rummage about amongst them ! " Then the cat dexterously 
opens a large book with its paws and endeavours to compre- 
hend the printed signs. At the very moment, however, when 
it seems to feel a wonderful spirit taking possession of it, it 
is surprised by its master who, with the cry : " Confounded 
animal 1 " rushes at it with uplifted stick. But he immediately 
starts back, exclaiming : " Cat ! cat ! you are reading 1 Nay, 
that I may not and will not forbid. What a marvellous 
desire for knowledge you have been born with 1 " 

Such a scene cannot strike us as unnatural in a purely 
fanciful tale, when we have learned what could happen in 
real life. We seem to see the rainbow of fantastic imagina- 
tion stretching its arch over the whole Romantic movement, 
from its first mild, though earnest, herald to its last weird, 
mannered exponent, from Wackenroder to Hoffmann. When, 
in the Life of Tieck, we find innumerable records of similar 
hallucinations, we begin to suspect that there is nothing, 
however fantastic, to be found in the Romanticists' writings 
which their fevered vision did not persuade them that they 
saw in real life. 

It is exceedingly interesting to observe, not only the in- 
fluence which Wackenroder's moods and emotions exercise 
upon Tieck, but also the part which the latter, thus influenced, 
takes in Wackenroder's work. The first thing which strikes 
one is, that Tieck, hitherto able only during the emanci- 
pating moments of production to rouse himself out of dark, 
William Lovell-like moods and give his rich talent free play, 
learns from Wackenroder to believe in imagination and art as 
mighty powers in human life, thereby arriving at the or 
firm basis for a philosophy of life to which he ever attaii 
The second is, that he, the less independent spirit of the 



1 



ii 4 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

following in Wackenroder's footsteps, accentuates all his 
tendencies, carrying them to wildly fantastic, yet natural 
conclusions. 

It is in those portions of the Herzensergiessungen in which 
Tieck collaborated, that the Roman Catholic tendency appears 
undisguisedly. It was Tieck who made the painter Antonio 
worship, not art alone, but also u the Blessed Virgin and the 
Holy Apostles " ; and Tieck's is the dictum, that true love of 
art must be a " religious love or a beloved religion." But most 
remarkable of all as a biographical document is a letter, which, 
though repudiated by Tieck, was certainly written by him, 
the letter in which a young man, a disciple of Albert Durer, 
who has come to Rome to study art, describes his conversion 
to Catholicism. It takes place in St. Peter's. " The sonorous 
Latin chants, which, rising and falling, penetrated the swell- 
ing waves of music like ships making their way through the 
waves of the sea, raised my soul higher and ever higher. 
When the music had pervaded my entire being and was 
flowing through all my veins, I roused myself from in- 
ward contemplation and looked around me, and the whole 
temple seemed to me to be alive, so intoxicated was I with 
the music. At this moment it ceased ; a priest advanced to 
the high-altar, and with impressive gesture lifted high the 
Host in view of the assembled multitude. All sank upon 
their knees, and trumpets and I know not what mighty in- 
struments crashed and boomed the spirit of adoration into 
my very soul. Then all at once it seemed to me as though 
that whole kneeling multitude were praying for the salvation 
of my soul, and I mingled my prayer with theirs." 

This passage is of peculiar importance because it contains 
a conclusive proof (one overlooked by that most thorough of 
observers and critics, Hettner) that the tendency to Catholicism 
had its root in the very first principle of the Romantic move- 
ment. Both Hettner and Julian Schmidt attach too much 
importance to the fact that Schlegel, as an old man, in his 
well-known letter to a French lady, ascribes this Catholic 
tendency simply to a predilection d' artiste. For the reason, 
the origin, of the artistic predilection is to be found in the 
original revulsion from the rational. 



WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 115 

But the tendency in the direction of Catholicism was 
not the only one of Wackenroder's tendencies which was 
immediately seized upon and exaggerated by Tieck and his 
school. In the Fantasien Uber die Kunst Wackenroder praises 
music as the art of arts, the art which above all others 
is capable of condensing and preserving the emotions of 
the human heart, of teaching us " to feel feeling." What 
else, what more, did the Romanticists feel? This exactly 
suited Tieck. Wackenroder proclaims the superiority of 
music over poetry, and affirms that the language of music 
is the richer of the two. To whom could this appeal as 
much as to the man whose poems are rather an expression 
of the moods in which poetry is written than poetry itself, 
rather moods of art than works of art ? 

Tieck goes further than Wackenroder, and from music 
selects instrumental music as that in which alone art 
is really free, emancipated from all the restraints of the 
outer world. Hoffman too, musician as well as poet, calls 
instrumental music the most romantic of all the arts; and it 
may be mentioned as a striking instance of the coherence 
which invariably exists between the great intellectual pheno- 
mena of an age, as a proof of the fact that the Romanticists, 
with all their supposed and all their real independence and 
spontaneity, were unconsciously yielding to and following an 
inevitable general tendency, that it is just at this time that 
Beethoven emancipates instrumental music, and raises it to 
its highest development. 

Enthusiasm for -musical intensity and fervour having 
thus found its way intq literature, Tieck soon arrives at the 
point of regarding emotional, melodious sound as the only 
true, the only pure poetry. His Love Story of Fair Magehne 
is a good example of this. Even in the prose portions 
of the tale everything rings and resounds — the hero's 
emotions and the landscape which serves as a background for 
them. The Count hears none of the sounds around him ; 
for " the music within him drowned the rustling of the trees 
and the splashing of the fountains/' But this inward music 
in its turn is drowned by the sweet strains of real instru 
ments. "The music flowed like a murmuring brook, ar 



n6 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

he saw the charm of the Princess come floating upon the 
silver stream, saw its waves kiss the hem of her garment. . • . 
Music was now the only movement, the only life in nature." 
Then the music dies away. " Like a stream of blue light " 
it disappears into the void ; and forthwith the knight himself 
begins to sing. 

In the " Garden of Poesy," of which we read in Zerbtno, 
roses and tulips, birds and the azure of the skies, foun- 
tains and storms, streams and spirits, all sing. We read in 
Bluebeard that " the flowers kissed each other melodiously." 
In this literature everything has its music — the moonlight, 
scents, painting ; and then on the other hand we read of the 
beams, the fragrance, and the shapes of music : " They sang 
with melodious throats, keeping time with the music of the 
moonbeams." The Romanticists had turned their backs 
upon material reality. Definite, corporeal form, nay, even a 
distinct representation of mental conditions was impossible 
to them. This was not what they aimed at. In their eyes 
tangibility was coarse and vulgar. Every distinct feature 
melts away in a sort of dissolving view. They are afraid of 
losing in profundity and infinity what they might possibly 
gain in restraint and plastic power. 

All the masters of the school agree on this point. First 
and foremost we have Novalis. His Hymns to Night, and 
indeed all his lyrics, are night and twilight poetry, in the 
dusk of which no distinct outlines are possible. His psycho- 
logical aim was, as he himself says, to fathom the name- 
less, unconscious powers of the soul. Therefore his aesthetic 
theory is, that language ought to become musical, to become 
song again ; and he also maintains that in a poetical work 
there need be no unity except that of spirit, that unity of 
idea or action is unnecessary. " One can imagine," he says, 
11 tales without more coherence than the different stages of 
a dream, poems which are melodious and full of beautiful 
words, but destitute of meaning or connection ; at most, 
comprehensible stanzas here and there, like fragments of 
perfectly unrelated things. This true poetry can of course 
only have a general allegorical significance and an indirect 
effect, like music." 



WACKENRODER : ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 117 

How entirely this harmonises with the theories of 
Friedrich Schlegel ! Schlegel, whose nature was a series 
of moods, who had not strength of will to carry out any 
plan, whose own career resembles an arabesque beginning 
with a thyrsus and ending with a cross composed of a 
knife and fork, says: "The arabesque, the simple musical 
swaying of the line itself, is the oldest, the original form 
in which human imagination takes shape. Its contours are 
no more definite than those of the clouds in the evening 
sky." 

The saying is apt when applied, not to imagination in 
general, but to the imagination of the Romanticists. Tieck's 
lyrics resemble Goethe's as the clouds on the horizon re- 
semble snow-clad mountains. Our attitude to the lyric 
poetry of the Romanticists resembles that of Polonius to 
the cloud: "Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in 
shape of a camel? — By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, 
indeed. — Methinks it is like a weasel. — It is backed like a 
weasel. — Or like a whale ? — Very like a whale." In Novalis, 
in the poems at any rate, we have still tangible, distinct 
artistic form, in Tieck's writings everything floats in a sort 
of mist or vapour of form supposed to correspond to the 
mysterious, expectant fervour of the theme. The work of 
art is stayed and fixed in its first, embryonic, vapour-ball 
stage. This elementary product of the imagination is 
designated primitive poetry. In order to reduce clearly 
defined poetic art once more to primeval poetry, all definite 
forms must be dissolved and kneaded together. Tieck 
preferred those works of the great poets which, they wrote 
before their style was developed, or which they chose to 
leave 9 tolerably formless (he confesses that not one of 
Shakespeare's plays produced such an impression on him 
as Pericles, only part of which is genuine), and he himself, 
following in the track of Pericles, produced such works as 
Genoveva and Octavian, in which the epic, lyric, and dramatic 
styles are all minced up together. 

This medley of styles was adopted in Denmark. It 
was well suited to the subject of Oehlenschlager's St. Hans 
A/ten Sfril and fairly so to that of his Aladdin; sometimes 



n8 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

it produced very unsuccessful results, as in the case of 
Hauch's Hamadryaden. 

So great is Tieck's formlessness, so impossible is it to 
him (in his Romantic period) to condense, that he is in- 
efficient even in pure lyric poetry. He may talk much of 
music and of the music of words, but he is wanting in the 
gift of rhythm ; he does not seem to have had a correct 
ear. A. W. Schlegel was infinitely Tieck's superior in this 
respect, as is proved by his admirable translations of the 
songs in As You Like It. But of Tieck and most of the 
Romanticists it is true that, in spite of all their talk of 
melodious style, they themselves were only melodious when 
they reverted to those southern measures, to the exact 
rules of which they were obliged to conform. They 
filled in the framework of sonnet and canzonet as ladies 
fill in with embroidery an outline designed upon canvas, 
crowding in rhymes in such superabundance that the 
meaning was often swamped by them. Tieck writes in 
Magelone : — 

" Ermngen, 
Bezwungen 

Von Lieb ist das Gluck, 
Verschwunden 
Die Stunden, 
Sie fliehen zuriick ; 
Und selige Lust 
Sie stillet, 
Erfullet 
Die trunkene, wonneklopfende Brust." 

In Baggesen's Faust we find the following rather overdone 
parody of this Romantic jingle : — 

" Mit Ahnsinn Wahnsinn, lachelndweinend, 
Einend — 

Mit Schiefe, Tiefe, dunkelmeinend, 
Scheinend — 

Der Enge Lang 5 entflammt in weiten Breiten, 
Muss licht der Dichter durch die Zeiten gleiten." 

And it was not only metres that the Romanticists borrowed 
from the Spaniards and Italians, but all kinds of technical 
tricks. They naively set to work to produce a lyrical 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 119 

picture with the assistance of assonances and tragic vowel 
sounds. Every vowel and consonant in the alphabet was 
pressed into the service in turn. Forty sonorous a's in suc- 
cession are supposed to induce a cheerful frame of mind 
in the reader, and a score or so of sombre, mournful 
w's make his flesh creep. Take as an example Tieck's 
melancholy U-Romance of old Sir Wulf, who is carried off by 
the devil. In it he goes the length of using begunnte instead 
of begann for the sake of tragic effect. When the reader's 
nerves have been narcotised for half-an-hour by such termi- 
nations as Unke — Sturme — hinunter — begunnte — verdunkeln 
— verschlungen — Wulfen — Munze gulden — grossen Kluften 
— rucke, Drucke — thuen, Zunf ten — lugen — bedunken — 
erschluge — anhube — mit tiefen Brunsten — vielen Unken, die 
heulten und wunken — zu dem Requiem des todten Wulfen, 
den der dunkle Satan mit vielen Wunden — erschluge — when 
nothing but u-tu-tu is sounding in his ears, he has reached 
the climax, language has become music, and he floats off on 
the stream of an emotional mood. It is in drama that this 
vowel-music is most comical. In Friedrich Schlegel's Alarkos, 
that arsenal of assonances and alliterations, the hero some- 
times for two or three pages in succession ends every line 
with the same vowel : — 

" Ihr Manner all', Pilaster dieser alten Burg, 
Genossen, Tapfre ! die umkranzt mein Ritterthum, 
Dess Glorie wir oft neu gefarbt mit hoher Lust 
In unsres kfihnen Herzens eignem heissen Blut — 
Die alte Ehr* in tiefer Brust, der lichte Ruhm, 
Dem festen Aug* in Nacht der einzig helle Punkt, 
So folgten Einem Stern wir all' vereint im Bund ; 
Der Bund ist nun zerschlagen durch den herben Fluch, 
Der mich im Strudel fortreisst fremd' und eigner Schuld. — 
Mich zwingt, von hier zu eilen, ein geheimer Ruf, 
Nach fernen Orten muss ich in drei Tagen, muss 
Ein gross Geschaft vollenden, und die Frist ist kurz." 

And on it goes — Burg, Lust, Muth, Schutz, Kund, Brust, 
Furcht, und, Ruhms, thun, Bund, uns, &c, &c. One de- 
rives quite as much satisfaction from the assonances alone 
as from the complete lines. When Alarkos was performed 



120 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

in Weimar and the audience burst into uproarious laughter, 
Goethe rose from his place in the stalls, cried in a voice of 
thunder: "Man lache nicht!" and signalled to the police 
that all who continued to laugh were to be turned out. We 
who read Alarkos now, are thankful that no one has the 
right to turn us out. 

The reason why the Romanticists subjected themselves 
to all this metrical restraint is not far to seek. These com- 
pulsory, cold metres exactly suit writers in whom metrical 
skill is combined with a complete lack of inventive power. 
But term ritna, otiava rima, and sonnets are an insufficient 
disguise for the formlessness of their matter. When the 
mist is so thick that it can be cut with a knife, the Roman- 
ticists cut it into fourteen pieces and call it a sonnet. 

In the unrestricted metres, formlessness and prosiness 
reach a climax. What, for instance, can be said for such 
lines as the following, from Tieck's Rdmische Reise ? — 

u Weit hinter uns liegt Rom, 
Auch mein Freund ist ernst, 
Der mit mir nach Deutschland kehrt, 
Der mit alien Lebens Kraften 
Sich in alte und neue Kunst gesenkt, 
Der edle Rumohr, 

Dess Freundschaft ich in mancher kranken Stunde 
Trost und Erheiterung danke." l 

That well-known drastic critic of the Romanticists, Arnold 
Ruge, supplied an appendix to this, which runs : — 

" Hochgeehrter Herr Hofrath ! 
Dieser unmittelbaren Lyrik, 
Das verzeihn Sie gutigst, weiss ich 
Mit dem besten Willen, 
Sowohl in alter als in neuer Poesie, 

1 " Far behind us lies Rome. 
My friend too is grave, 
The friend who returns with me to Germany, 
After devoting all his powers 
To the study of ancient and modern art — 
The noble Rumohr, 

To whose friendship I have owed comfort and cheer 
In many a suffering hour." 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 121 

Nichts zur Seite zu stellen, 

Als etwa diesen 

Schwachen Versuch einer freien Nachbildung." l 

But the attempt to make away with language in favour 
of music reaches a climax when Tieck goes so far as to 
endow music itself, or musical instruments, with the power 
of speech. Occasionally the result is comical, as in Stern- 
bald (first edition), where the instruments all talk, the flute 
saying : — 

" Unser Geist ist himmelblau, 
Fuhrt Dich in die blaue Ferae. 
Zarte Klange locken Dich, 
Ein Gemisch von andera T6nen. 
Lieblich sprechen wir hinein, 
Wenn die andera munter singen, 
Deuten blaue Berge, Wolken, 
Lieben Himmel sariftlicb an, 
Wie der letzte leise Grand 
Hinter griinen frischen Baumen." f 

This train of thought received its most classic expression 
in the poem with which Phantasus ends, the theme of which 
is, in the manner of Calderon, repeated with innumerable 
variations : — 

" Liebe denkt in siissen Tonen, 
Denn Gedanken stehn zu fern, 
Nur in Tonen mag sie gern 
Alles, was sie will, verschSnen. 

Drum ist ewig uns zugegen, 
Wenn Musik mit Klangen spricht, 

1 " Honoured Herr Hofirath ! 
I pray you to excuse me, but, 
With the best will in the world 
I cannot find, 

In ancient or in modern poetry, 
Anything to match this lyric outburst 
Except perhaps 
My own weak imitation of the same," 

1 " Our spirit, which is azure blue, transports thee to blue distances. Sweet tones 
allure thee, a mingling of many sounds. When the others sing bravely, we chime 
sweetly in, telling softly of blue mountains, clouds, fair skies ; we are like the faint, 
clear background behind fresh green leaves." 



122 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Ihr die sprache nicht gebricht, 
Holde Lieo* auf alien Wegen ; 
Liebe kann sich nicht bewegen, 
Leihet sie den Odem nicht" 1 

This superhuman love, which differs from ordinary human 
love in being unable to employ language as an organ, finds 
absolutely appropriate expression in music ; language is only 
employed to condemn itself and to declare that it cedes its 
place to music. To such a degree of subtlety and ultra- 
refinement does the Romantic spirit gradually lead. 

The next step is that which Tieck takes in his comedy, 
Die verkehrU Welt ("The Topsy-Turvy World"), namely, the 
employing of language exclusively on account of its musical 
qualities. To this comedy there is prefixed as overture a 
symphony, which, in its essentially musical vagueness, dis- 
plays really classic originality. Music had never been para- 
phrased into words in this manner before; hence the ex- 
periment is to this day regarded as distinctly typical. The 
man who has the courage to carry his madness to its final 
consequence, by doing so endows this madness, in which 
there is method, with living vigour. 



SYMPHONY 
Andante in D Major, 

u If we desire to enjoy ourselves, it is not of so much consequence how 
we do it, as that we really do it From gravity we turn to gaiety ; then, 
weary of gaiety, return to gravity ; but let us observe ourselves too closely, 
in either case have our aim too constantly in view, and there's an end as well 
to real seriousness as to unaffected gaiety." 

Piano. 

"But are reflections such as these appropriate in a symphony? Why 
begin so sedately ? No 1 no indeed 1 I will rather at once set all the instru- 
ments to play together." 



1 " Love thinks in melodious sounds ; thoughts are too far to seek ; 'tis with sweet 
sounds it beautifies its longings. Therefore love is ever present with us when sweet 
music speaks ; it needs no language, but is helpless till it borrows the voice of 
music." 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 123 



Crescendo. 

" I have only to will, but to will with intelligence ; for the storm does not 
rise all at once, in a moment ; it announces itself it grows, thus awaking 
sympathy, awe, fear, and joy; otherwise it would but occasion empty 
amazement and fright. It is difficult to read at sight, how much more 
difficult, then, to hear at sight But now we are right in the midst of the 
tumult Bang, ye kettle-drums 1 Trumpets, crash !" 

Fortissimo. 

" Ha I the turmoil, the onslaughts, the desperate strife of sounds 1 Whither 
are ye rushing ? Whence do ye come ? They plunge like heroes into the 
thickest of the fray ; these fell, and expire ; those return, wounded and 
feint, seeking consolation and friendship. Hark, the galloping, snorting 
horses I The organ rolls, like thunder among the mountains. There is a 
rush and a roar as when a cataract, despairingly seeking its own destruction, 
flings itself over the naked ledge and rages down, deeper and ever deeper 
down, into the bottomless abyss." 



Vioiino Primo Solo. 

" What I It is not permissible, not possible, to think in sounds, and to 
make music in words and thoughts ? Were it so, how hard would be the 
fate of us artists 1 What poor language, and still poorer music ! Do ye not 
think many thoughts so delicate, so spiritual, that in despair they take 
refuge in music, there at last to find rest ? How often does a whole day 
spent in racking thought leave nought behind but a buzz and a hum, 
which time alone changes into melody ?" 



Forte. 

All is in order, the stage is arranged, the prompter in his place, the 
audience has arrived. Expectation is aroused, curiosity stirred ; but few 
think of the end of the piece, and how they will then say, u Was it any- 
thing out of the ordinary ? ,v Give good heed ! You must, or 'twill all be con- 
fusion.. Yet be not too eager, lest you should see and hear more than is 
meant 1 Hear and give heed 1 But give heed as you ought 1 O hark 1 
Harkl Harkl! Hark 11 1 1 

One sees that Kierkegaard, in his well-known essay on 
Don Juan (in the concluding chorus of which we seem to hear 
the footsteps of the Commandant — " Hor, hor, hor Mozarf s 

1 Tieck, ▼. 285. 
VOL. II. I 



124 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Don Juan ! "), is merely going a little farther in the direction 
indicated by Tieck ; and it is very evident how close the 
relation is between Tieck's first conception of the romantic 
ideal and Hoffmann's transformations of music into the emo- 
tional outbursts and weird visions of Kreiskriana. 

But Hoffmann, who possessed such great and original 
musical gifts that he can hardly be considered an author pure 
and simple, but must be treated as a poet-musician, was far 
more in earnest than Tieck in this matter of making music in 
words. He lived and moved and had his being in music; he 
was as fertile a composer as he was an author, and many of 
his writings are fantasies on the subject of music or of the 
great composers. When ill he was wont, in his feverish 
wanderings, to confuse his attendants with musical instru- 
ments. Of one who had a soft, languishing voice, he said : 
11 1 have been tormented to-day by the flute." Of another, 
with a deep bass voice : " That insufferable bassoon has been 
plaguing me the whole afternoon." 

When he introduces Gluck into his FantasiestOcke, he makes 
him speak of the intervals as if they were living beings. 
11 Once again it was night. Two giants in shining cuirasses 
rushed upon me — the Keynote and the Fifth ! They seized 
me, but their eyes beamed mildly on me : 'I know what fills 
thy breast with longing; that gentle, winning youth, the Third, 
will soon appear among the giants.' " Kreisler too is made to 
talk of stabbing himself with a gigantic Fifth. What in the 
other Romanticists is fantastic sentimentality, in Hoffmann 
becomes weird burlesque. 

In the sketch entitled Kreisler>s musikalisch poetischer Klub, 
he gives to the characteristic qualities of certain notes the 
names of colours, and thereby produces a picture of a 
connected series of mental impressions. He had the keen 
perception peculiar to certain delicately organised, nervous 
temperaments, of the relationship which undoubtedly exists 
between sounds and colours. 

As an example of Hoffmann's advance on Tieck's at- 
tempts to express pure music in words, note the passage 
which describes how, after Kreisler has played, a marvel- 
lous rush of magnificent chords and runs is heard within 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 125 

the pianoforte itself. There is a genuinely Romantic blend- 
ing of the impressions of the different senses in the attempt 
made to give some idea of this music : " Its fragrance shim- 
mered in flaming, mysteriously interwoven circles." On this 
follows a representation, in emotional language, of the various 
keys and chords, a thing hitherto unattempted. 

Chord of A Flat Minor (mezzo forte). 

" Ah ! — they bear me away to the land of eternal longing ; but as they lay 
hold of me, anguish awakes and rends my breast" 

E Major Sixth {ancora piu forte). 

" Stand steadfast, my heart 1 Break not, struck by the scorching ray 
that has pierced my breast Be of good courage, my soul ! Mount high 
into the element which gave thee birth and is thy home 1" 

E Major Third (forte). 

"They have crowned me with a glorious crown, but the sparkles and flashes 
of its diamonds are the thousand tears I have shed, and in its gold gleam the 
flames that have consumed me. Courage and power, confidence and strength 
befit him who is called to reign in the spiritual realm." 

A Minor (harpeggiando dolce). 

" Why wouldst thou flee, lovely maiden ? Thou canst not, for thou art 
held fast by invisible bands. Nor canst thou tell what it is that has taken 
up its abode in thy breast 'Tis like a gnawing pain, yet it makes thee 
tremble with joy. But thou wilt know all when I talk to thee fondly in 
that spirit language which I can speak and thou canst understand. . . ." 

E Fiat Major (forte). 

" Follow him 1 follow him 1 His raiment is green like the green of the 
forest ; the sweet tones of the horn echo in his wistful words ! List to the 
rustling in the bushes, list to the horn blasts, full of rapture and pain ! 
It is he 1 Let us hasten to meet him ! " 

Then finally we have the parody of all this in Kater 
Murr, where Hoffmann reproduces caterwauling in verse, a 
glossary of the different sounds being provided. 

It is in this entirely musical poetry that Wackenroders 
idea of art attains to its truest and highest expression. Th 
vigorous pantheism which in Goethe's case is plastic, and fin 






126 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

expression in the creation of the Diana der Epheser, here be- 
comes musical. In all Tieck's early works, with their piety, 
their sensuality, their reminiscences of Wackenroder and of 
Goethe, we feel the rush of a strong, broad wave of Romantic 
pantheism. In Sternbald, for example, he writes : " We often 
listen intently and peer into the future, in eager expectation 
of the new phenomena that will soon pass before us in 
motley, magic garb. At such times we feel as if the mountain 
stream were trying to sing its melody more clearly, as if the 
tongues of the trees were loosened, that their rustling might 
be to us intelligible song. Soon the flute-like notes of love 
are heard in the distance ; our hearts beat high at his coming; 
time stands still as if arrested by a magic word ; the shining 
moments dare not flee. We are enclosed, as it were, in a 
magic circle of melody, and rays of a new, transfigured existence 
penetrate like mysterious moonlight into our actual life." And 
again: "O impotent Art! how stammering and childish are 
thine accents compared with the full swelling organ tones that 
well forth from the inmost depths, from mountain and valley, 
forest and stream ! I hear, I feel how the eternal World 
Spirit sweeps all the strings of the terrible harp with con- 
straining fingers, how all the most diverse forms are born of 
his playing and speed throughout nature upon spirit wings. 
My little human heart in wild enthusiasm takes up the con- 
test and fights itself weary and faint in its rivalry with the 
highest. . . . The eternal melody, jubilant and exultant, 
storms past me." 

Both life and poetry are here resolved into music. 

In all ages, and in every domain of art, the artist has at 
times been tempted to display his mastery over his material 
by defying it while using it. In the history of sculpture came 
a period when, irritated by the heaviness of stone, sculptors 
endeavoured to compel it to express lightness and airiness ; 
or else, like the mannerists of the rococo period, imitated the 
art of the painter. In like manner the Romanticists would 
fain have language regarded only as a thing akin to music ; 
their endeavour is to use words more for their sound 
than their meaning. They tried to make word-music, much 
as the prose author of our own day try, with more or less 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 127 

success, to make word-pictures. It is not difficult to see 
what led to this particular crotchet. Their antipathy to 
purpose, their devotion to irony, naturally induced the desire s 

not to be bound by, not to be responsible for, their words. 
They use them ironically, in such a manner that they can 
retract them. They will not have them standing solidly 
before them, indicating an aim, a purpose. Just as, by con- 
ceiving of liberty as licence, they succeeded in returning to 
a point where it was possible for them to do this, or to do 
that, as the fancy took them, so they succeeded, by conceiv- 
ing of language simply as sound, in making it the vehicle of 
emotion without tendency, that is, without relation to life and 
action. They did not really escape tendency ; that is an im- 
possibility ; but, as theirs was not the tendency upwards and 
onwards, they gravitated downwards and backwards. And, 
since they were perpetually compelling words to declare 
themselves incompetent and to abdicate in favour of music, 
it was only natural that the musical composers also, influenced 
by the spirit of the times, should endeavour to express the 
Romantic ideal in their art, with those means to which the 
poets in their impotence had constantly attempted to recur. 

Tieck's dramatised fairy-tales, of which Bluebeard may 
be taken as a specimen, have a great resemblance to opera 
libretti. The fantastic, legend-like productions of the Roman- 
ticists are, indeed, precisely the sort of thing demanded by 
opera. There would have been a future for Tieck as a 
writer of opera libretti. As a matter of fact, he only wrote 
one, and that one was never set to music. The theories of 
Romanticism nevertheless found due expression in music. 
E. T. A. Hoffmann represents the transition from Romantic 
authorship to Romantic musical composition. As an operatic 
composer, he is not only the musical interpreter of Calderon, 
the poet of past days most admired by the Romanticists, but 
also collaborates fraternally with contemporary Romanticists. 
He writes music for Brentano's Die lustige Musikanten and 
Zacharias Werner's Das Kreuz an der Ostsee, and bases an 
excellent three-act opera on Fouqu6's Undine. 

As an operatic writer he is, however, less the musical 
genius than the gifted translator of poetry into the language 






i 



128 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

of music. In thd opinion of the most competent judges, he 
was only thoroughly successful with subjects which har- 
monised with his own literary leaning to the terrible and the 
supernatural. We have him at his best, for instance, in the 
songs of the wild, inhuman Teutons in Das Kreuz an der Ostsee, 
with their expression of untamable passions, and in the fairy 
tale-like, supernatural scenes of Undine, which produce a 
feeling of agreeable eeriness. 

No less an authority than Karl Maria von Weber bestowed 
hearty praise upon the last-mentioned opera. And Weber 
himself is, beyond comparison, the greatest of the composers 
who succeeded in giving expression in music to the Romantic 
theory of art. In his choice of themes he follows closely in 
the track of the Romanticists. In Preciosa the joys of a 
free, vagabond life are extolled, just as they are in Tieck's 
Franz Sternbald and Eichendorff's Leben tines Taugenichts 
(" Life of a Ne'er-Do- Well "). In Oberon we are transported 
into the fairy world of Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights 
Dream t the play which served as the point of departure 
for all Tieck's fantastic comedies. And in Der Freischatz, 
Weber, like the Romanticists in their later periods, has 
recourse to the popular in his art, makes use of national, 
popular melodies, just as the Romanticists of Germany and 
Denmark made use of national, popular songs, and, like 
them, introduces popular traditions and superstitions. No 
one witnessing a performance of Der FreischUtz in a German 
theatre could be for a moment in doubt, even though he 
were deaf, of its being a Romantic opera. He sees the 
gloomy ravine where the spirits of nature dwell, the weird 
moonlight dance (scenes that remind one of the temptations 
of St. Anthony in old Dutch paintings), and, finally, the wild 
chase in which, with a marvellously illusive effect, shadows 
projected by a species of magic lantern pursue each other 
through the air. But to the listening connoisseur the real 
interest lies in the attitude of the composer to all these 
external conditions. He feels that Weber treats his subject 
much as the Romanticists do theirs, only with greater genius. 
He too drives his art to one of its extremes. Just as the 
Romanticists are inclined to conceive of speech as only sound 



WACKENRODER: ROMANTICISM AND MUSIC 129 

and rhythm, he is inclined to treat music as if it were simply 
rhythm. Samiel's Motiv, for example, is more rhythmic than 
melodic, and consequently produces a coarser, more realistic, 
but also more picturesque effect. The Romanticists write 
musical poetry ; Weber composes pictorial music. While 
Beethoven presents us with a purely psychological picture, 
represents nothing tangible, nothing b "t his own ^ftiil, Weber 
gives us physical characterisation. He always relies upon un- 
mistakable outward phenomena, on something of which his 
audience already have a preconceived idea, as, for instance, 
fairies. Except in the Pastoral Symphony , Beethoven only 
paints the impression ; W eber paints the thing itself. He imi- 
tates the sounds of nature. He makes the violins moan to 
represent the moaning of the trees ; the rising of the moon is 
announced and depicted by a chord. When he gives us a 
rhythmic succession of non-resonant beats instead of waves 
of sound, i.e. makes a perfectly arbitrary abstract use of the 
vehicle of his art ; when he confines himself to song and the 
simplest of harmonies, ue. elects to be naive and popular ; or 
when, in order to obtain a grotesque, wild, or spectral effect, 
he gives instruments parts which lie outside their natural 
province and compass (for instance deep tones to the 
clarinets), £*• employs the mediums of his art in a more 
strange and eccentric manner than they had ever been 
employed before — in all these cases he is a thorough-going 
Romanticist, one who, with his greater genius and far more 
suitable medium, supplies the shortcomings of which we are 
invariably conscious in the works of the Romantic poets. 1 

1 Cf. George Sand : Introduction to Mouny Robin. 



ATTITUDE OF ROMANTICISM TO ART 
AND NATURE 

Wackenroder's book, which, as it were, indicates the 
attitude of Romanticism to music, also indicates what its 
attitude is to be towards art. Just as Winckelmann, with his 
first enthusiastic writings, had awakened the desire to study 
antique art, now Wackenroder enlists men's sympathies for 
medievalism. 

In his naive enthusiasm he begins by translating and 
paraphrasing those portions of Vasari's old biographies of the 
famous painters which describe the greatness and nobility 
of mind of the Italian masters. Amongst others he extols 
Leonardo; but he neither grasps the characteristics of the 
man nor gives us intelligent criticism of his art ; he simply 
eulogises him under the heading : Das Muster tines kunstreichen 
und dabei tiefgelehrten Malers, vorgestellt in dim Leben des Leo- 
nardo da Vinci (The Gifted and Erudite Painter, as exemplified 
in the Life of Leonardo da Vinci). The essay begins with 
the following impulsive assertion : " The period of the resur- 
rection of the art of painting in Italy produced men to whom 
the generation of to-day should look up as to glorified saints.", 
The fact, actually chronicled by Vasari, that the great painters 
of the Italian Renaissance led singularly unsaintly lives, is 
entirely ignored. In its very germ the Romantic conception 
of art is poisoned by the reaction towards sentiment. The 
critic folds his hands to worship, and forgets to open his eyes 
to see. 

Amongst the translated fragments Wackenroder introduces 
a short original essay, entitled Longing for Italy ,in which we have 
the first appearance of that enthusiasm for Italy which after- 
wards becomes not only general, but almost obligatory. Love 
and longing for Italy was nothing new in Germany. Goethe's 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 131 

father, who was no enthusiast, had known this feeling ; but 
now idolatry of an Italy which had no resemblance to the 
real one became a necessary clause in the creed of every 
genuine Romanticist. In poetry the longing for Italy found 
expression in a profusion of lyrical poems, dilutions and 
attenuations of that divine song of Mignon's, which is a 
picture as well as a poem. Mignon is content with saying : 
11 Die Myrthe still und hoch der Lorbeer steht " ; the Romantic 
poets express themselves in superlatives. The Italy of litera- 
ture in general may perhaps be best and most briefly defined 
as the Italy of Leopold Robert (though even this definition 
is too exact), a country which never existed on any map but 
that of the Romanticists. The real Italy, with its bright 
colours and its cheerful life, is not to be found. Colour 
is replaced by ideal forms; movement is petrified, that it 
may not disturb an interplay of beautiful waving lines. To 
the Romanticists Italy became what Dulcinea was to Don 
Quixote, an ideal of which they knew almost nothing beyond 
what was conveyed by a few general, vapid descriptive 
phrases. When a definite, real country is advanced to be 
the object of men's longings, the home of beauty, it gradually 
loses, in their depictions of it, all its real, living beauty. But it 
never was the real, living beauty of Italy which the later Roman- 
ticists loved ; it was Italy as a ruin ; it was Catholicism as a 
mummy ; it was the dwarfed and stunted spirit of the people 
(Volksgeist), which, hermetically sealed up by a partly ignorant, 
partly ambitious and designing priesthood, has remained un- 
enlightened and naive. What they admired here, as else- 
where, was the feeble, lifeless poetry of a day that was dead 
and gone. 

But this cult of Italy and of the pious, or seemingly pious 
Italian painters, is only the stepping-stone by which the 
"Friar" passes to the worship of his own particular idol, 
Albert Dflrer. With his enthusiasm for this apostle of 
German art is combined enthusiasm for ancient Nuremberg. 
f When Tieck and Wackenroder travelled together through 
Germany in 1793, Nuremberg was their chief place of pilgrim- 
age. The oftener they saw the town, the more affection, nay 
devotion, did they conceive for it. " The art life of Germany 



1 32 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

revealed itself to them there in all its fulness. That of 
which they had hitherto only divined the possibility, had here 
long been a living reality. How rich in monuments of all 
the arts was this town, with its churches of St. Sebald and 
St. Lorenz, its works by Albert Diirer, Vischer, and Krafft ! 
Artistic feeling and ardent industry had here elevated handi- 
craft to the rank of art. Every house was a monument of 
the past ; every well, every bench, bore witness to the citizens 
of the quiet, simple, thoughtful life of their forefathers. No 
whitewash had as yet reduced the houses to uniformity. 
There they stood in all their stateliness, each with its carven 
imagery, borrowed from poem and legend. Ottnit, Siegenot, 
Dietrich, and other old heroes, were to be seen above the 
doors, guarding and protecting the home. Over the old 
imperial city, with its marvels and its oddities, hung a 
fragrance which in other places had long ago been blown 
away by the winds of political change and enlightenment." x 
Nuremberg is, in very deed, a splendid old town, but 
it is easy to understand the special attraction there must 
have been for two budding Romanticists in its medie- 
/ valism, its old Catholic churches, its old houses with the 
y Nibelungen heroes above the doors. Their enthusiasm over 
the treasures of beautiful Nuremberg is, truth to say, far 
more natural than the long blindness of the eighteenth 
century to them. As to Lessing the word "Gothic" had 
simply meant " barbaric," so to Winckelmann the German 
Renaissance had been a closed book. Now the splendours 
of Nuremberg were gazed on by eager eyes. In a species 
, of aesthetic intoxication the friends wandered round the 
j churches and the churchyards ; they stood by the graves of 
] Albert Diirer and Hans Sachs ; a vanished world rose before 
their eyes, and the life of ancient Nuremberg became to them 
the romance of art. The chapter in the HcrzensergOsse en- 
titled In Memory of Albert DUrer is the first-fruits of these 
sentiments, and at the same time an expression of the warm 
patriotic feeling of the young author. " In the days when 
] Albert was wielding the brush, the German still played a 
' distinctly characteristic and notable part on the stage of the 

1 Kopke : Ludwig TiecJk, L 139. 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 133 

world ; and Duress pictures faithfully reproduce the serious, 
straightforward, strong German character, its spirit as well 
as its outward lineaments. In our days this vigorous 
German character has vanished, in art as well as in life. . . • 
The German art of those days was a pious youth, who had 
received a homely upbringing in a small town, amongst his 
relations — it has now become the conventional man of the 
world, who has lost the stamp of the small town, and along 
with it his originality." 

Yet this patriotic feeling in art is not Wackenroder's 
fundamental feeling ; it is based upon a more comprehensive 
one. The little book inveighs throughout against all intolerance 
in art. Freedom from every compulsory rule, a freedom based 
upon deep and genuine love of beauty, is proclaimed in language 
which betrays the mimosa-like sensitiveness of this prophet 
of the new gospel of art. " He," says Wackenroder, " whose 
more sensitive nerves are keenly alive to the mysterious 
attraction which lies hidden in art, will often be deeply 
moved by what leaves another callous. He has the good 
fortune to have more frequent opportunities than other men 
for healthy mental excitement and activity." 

Such excitement and activity were, as we have seen, most 
easily and most naturally called forth by the musical treatment 
of poetry and by music itself — much less naturally by clearly 
defined corporeal forms of art. 

If our supposition that Wackenroder's theory of art finds 
its true and highest development in the distinctively musical 
type of poetry be correct, it is easy to foretell what will be 
the result of Tieck's determination to write (with the 
assistance of his friend's posthumous papers) a tale embody- 
ing the "Friar's" longings and theories. The letters 
written by the German painter in Rome to his friend in 
Nuremberg became the germ of the new art-romance, The 
Wanderings of Franz Sternbald t a Story of Olden Germany. 
The book takes its name from its hero, a painter of the 
days of Albert Darer. The delineation of character is vague 
and weak ; the action is swamped in dialogue ; even * "* 
as freely and fantastically as in dreams (and of dn 
have any number) with the feeble talkin^ c — iffp 



j 



134 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

duty for heroes and heroines ; and even the sequence of these 
events is constantly interrupted by the insertion of songs 
improvised to order, which may be best described by quoting 
a saying of Sternbald's friend, Florestan, namely, that it 
ought to be possible to construct in words and verse a 
whole conversation consisting of nothing but sound. When 
the thread of event is most attenuated and the silk of the 
verse most thinly spun, music proper is called in. The 
primitive strains of horn or pipe are so frequently intro- 
duced that the author himself in a later work, Zcrbino, jests 
at this superfluity of horn music. 

In one of Caroline Schlegel's letters we find Goethe's 
apt criticism of the book. He said that it ought by 
rights to have been called Musical Wanderings; that there 
was everything imaginable in it except a painter ; that if 
it were intended for an art-romance, art should have re- 
ceived quite different and more comprehensive treatment ; 
that there was no real substance in the book, and that its 
artistic tendency was an erroneous one ; that there were 
beautiful sunsets in it, but that they were repeated too often. 
Much severer, however, and more penetrating is Caroline's 
own criticism. She writes : " As to Part First, I shall only 
say that I am still in doubt whether Tieck did not intend 
to represent Sternbald's devotion to art as something regret- 
table, a mistaken, fruitless devotion, like Wilhelm Meister's. 
If this be the case, then there is another fault, namely, the 
want of human interest in the story. Part Second throws 
no light on the matter. In it there is the same vagueness, 
the same want of power. One is always hoping for some- 
thing decisive, always expecting Franz to make notable 
progress in one direction or another; but he never does. 
Once more we read of beautiful sunrises, the charms of 
spring, the alternation of day and night, the light of sun, 
moon, and stars, the singing of birds. It is all very charm- 
ing, but there is a want of substance in it, and a certain 
paltriness both in Sternbald's moods and emotions and in 
the delineation of them. There are almost too many 
poems, and they have as little connection with each other as 
have the loosely strung together events and anecdotes, in 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 135 

many of which latter, moreover, one detects all sorts of 
imitation." 

But if there be no action in this book, what does 
it contain? Reflections — in the first instance upon art, in 
the second upon nature. 

First we have endless meditations and quantities of aphor- 
isms on art and poetry, interspersed with feeble lyric poems, 
which are hardly distinguishable one from the other. Only 
one among the number, a longish poem on Arion, is at all 
remarkable. It indicates the spirit of the book. The three 
leaders of Romanticism, A. W. Schlegel, Tieck, and Novalis, 
all sang the praises of Arion, and somewhat later he was 
hymned in Danish by P. L. Moller. It was natural that the 
hearts of the Romanticists should be stirred by the legend of 
the poet-subduer of nature, who roused the enthusiasm of 
the very monsters of the sea, rode upon dolphins, was invul- 
nerable, invincible, of immortal fame. He was their symbol, 
their hero. All their poetry is, in a certain sense, an attempt 
to expound the legend of Arion ; and what else are all the 
echoes and imitations of their works, the books which glorify 
poets, artists, actors, troubadours, heroic and irresistible 
tenors ? The figure of Narcissus would be the fitting frontis- 
piece for all these innumerable volumes. 

As a matter of fact the main ingredients of Sternbald are 
trite refutations of the trite objection to art, that it is useless, 
trivial reasons for art being national ("since we are not 
Italians, and an Italian can never feel as a German does "), 
and hymns in praise of Albert Durer. It is their admira- 
tion for Durer that first brings the two lovers together, just 
as Werther and Lotte were first united by their. common 
enthusiasm for Klopstock. The same ideas found expression 
in Danish in Sibbern's Gabrielis and Oehlenschl&ger's ^-*- 
reggio. Parts of the plot of Correggio are anticipated 
have, for instance, the artist painting his own wife f 
Madonna, and his grief at having to part with T 
long word-symphony in honour of Strasburf 
followed by bitter thrusts at the " uncouth ma c 
Milan and Pisa, and that disjointed building 
of Lucca." Then we have admiration and 



136 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Eulenspiegel and Hans Wurst (these gentlemen being sup- 
posed to represent fancy and irony), and great enthusiasm for 
Durer's stag with the cross between its antlers, and for the 
11 simple-hearted, pious, and touching" manner in which 
the knight in front of it bends his knees. The picture 
in question is undoubtedly a beautiful, simple-minded pro- 
duction, but we cannot help smiling at the serious attempt 
made to prove that of all the ways in which the legs of a 
kneeling man can be bent, this is by far the most Christian. 

Again and again the idea recurs that all true art must be 
allegorical, that is to say, marrowless and bloodless. Most 
of the poems are allegories. The principal one is the long 
allegory of Phantasus, wretched verse without one spark of 
imagination : 

" Der launige Phantasus, 
Ein wunderlicher Alter, 
Folgt stets seiner narrischen Laune. 
Sie haben ihn jetzt festgebunden, 
Dass er nur seine Possen lasst, 
Vernunft im Denken nicht stfirt, 
Den armen Menschen nicht irrt," &c, &C 1 

Reminiscences of this satire upon the attacks made on 
imagination by the prosaic are to be found here and there in 
Andersen's Fairy Tales. The poem, which is recited in the 
moonlight, indicates as an ideal subject for the painter a 
pilgrim in the moonlight, the emblem of humanity: "For 
what are we but wandering, erring pilgrims ? Can aught but 
the light from above illumine our path ? " There are distinct 
traces of this same tendency in our own poet, Hauch, 
with his perpetual pointing " upwards " and his partiality for 
pilgrims and hermits. 

But in Romanticism at this stage, in spite of all its blood- 
less spirituality, sensuality still wells up strong and unre- 

1 "Capricious Phantasus, 
A strange old man, 
Follows his foolish, wayward bent ; 
But now they have fettered him, 
That he may cease from his trickery, 
No longer confuse reasonable thought, 
Nor lead poor man astray." 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 137 

strained. Franz Sternbald, the trained artist, maintains the 
superiority of Titian and Correggio to all other painters. 
Of Correggio, whom he especially favours, he says : " Who 
would dare to vie with him, at least in the representation of 
voluptuous love ? To no other human spirit has there been 
granted such a revelation of the glories of the realm of the 
senses." 

This standpoint was, as every one knows, soon relin- 
quished, consistency leading to the adoption of another. 
The brothers Sulpice and Melchior Boisser6e of Cologne 
were in Paris in 1802, when Friedrich Schlegel was study- 
ing there, and they had private lectures from him. The 
old German pictures in the Louvre reminded the young 
men of old paintings in their native town, which the prevail- 
ing academic taste had consigned to oblivion. In conse- 
quence of Napoleon's systematic pillage of pictures, there 
was a good collection of German ones in Paris, which made 
the study of them an easy matter. 

The best idea of what the German medieval artists had 
produced was to be obtained from the quantities of paintings 
and wood and stone carving which came into the market 
after the suppression of monasteries and charitable founda- 
tions. At that time men had lost all appreciation for monu- 
ments of art ; with the utmost indifference they saw churches 
turned into quarries, and the most precious artistic treasures 
dispersed to the four winds. Masterpieces were sold for a 
trifle, and the purchasers of the supposed old rubbish were 
actually pitied. Altar-pieces were made into window-shutters, 
dovecots, tables, and roofing ; the caretakers in the monasteries 
often used old paintings on wood as fuel, for as a rule even the 
best were unrecognisable, from taper-smoke, dust, and dirt. 1 

After Friedrich Schlegel, in his periodical, Europa, had 
drawn attention to the wealth of old German paintings, the 
brothers Boisser6e began to collect the scattered treasures, 
travelling up and down the Rhine and throughout the 
Netherlands to track out the long-despised works. By 1805 
a collection of Flemish and German masters ha^" nade, 

which exercised great influence on the history 

1 Sepp : GSrres und seine ZeU *~ ™v 



138 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

The revival of enthusiasm for early German art led to 
predilection for the pre-Raphaelite Italian painters. All 
honour to the pre-Raphaelites 1 From Fiesole and Giotto to 
Masaccio, Botticelli, Ghirlandajo, Luca Signorelli, Perugino, 
and Pinturicchio, all Europe pays them the homage that is 
their due. But Friedrich Schlegel, in his article in Europa 
on Raphael, exalts the pre-Raphaelite at the expense of the 
succeeding period. He says: "With this newer school, 
typified by such names as Raphael, Correggio, Giulio Romano, 
and Michael Angelo, begins the decay of art." And this is 
considered to be so patent a fact that Schlegel does not think 
it necessary to offer any justification of his assertion ; nay, 
two pages later he actually confesses that he has not seen 
any of Michael Angelo's works. Here we have the perfec- 
tion of Romantic insolence. This paragon of an art critic, 
who, in order the better to exalt the old monkish pictures, 
dates the decay of art from Raphael, Correggio, Titian, and 
Michael Angelo, admits without the slightest feeling of shame 
that he has not seen so much as one of the works of the 
greatest of these men. Despising such a paltry thing as 
knowledge, he judges him with his inner consciousness. 

But it is unnecessary to anticipate ; for in Sternbald itself 
monkish piety, with all its languishing fanaticism, has already 
come to life again in an unctuousness without parallel. 
This it was which so irritated Goethe. The idea that piety 
lies at the foundation of all true art, a theory which 
was speedily adopted by the whole school of neo-German 
" Nazarenic " painters, he constantly jeered at. An expres- 
sion he often used in speaking of the " Nazarenes " was, that 
they Sternbaldised (sUrnbaldisterten). 

The essay on Winckelmann which Goethe published about 
this time was a direct attack upon the Romanticists. In it 
he writes : " This description of the antique mind, with its 
concentration upon this world and its blessings, leads directly 
to the reflection that such advantages are only compatible 
with a pagan spirit. That self-confidence, that living and 
acting in the present, that simple reverence for the gods as 
ancestors and admiration for them as if they were works of 
art, that resignation to an inevitable fate, and that belief in a 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 139 

future of highly prized posthumous fame, all these things to- 
gether constitute such an indivisible whole, unite in such a 
manner to form the human existence designed by nature her- 
self, that those pagans show themselves alike robust and sane 
in the supreme moment of enjoyment and in the dread moment 
of self-sacrifice or annihilation. This pagan spirit is apparent 
in all Winckelmann's actions and writings. . . . And we 
must keep this frame of mind of his, this remoteness from, 
nay, this actual antipathy to the Christian standpoint, in 
view when we judge his so-called change of religion. 
Winckelmann felt that, in order to be a Roman in Rome, in 
order really to live the life of the place, it was necessary that 
he should become a member of the Catholic Church, sub- 
scribe to its beliefs, and conform to its usages. . . . The 
decision came all the more easily to him in that, born pagan 
as he was, Protestant baptism had not availed to make a 
Christian of him. • . • There is no doubt that a certain 
opprobrium, which it seems impossible to avoid, attaches to 
every man who changes his religion. This shows us that 
what men set most store by is steadfastness ; and they value 
it the more because, themselves divided into parties, they 
have their own peace and security always in view. Where 
destiny rather than choice has placed us, there we are to 
remain. ... So much for a very serious side of the ques- 
tion; there is a much lighter and more cheerful one. 
Certain positions taken up by others, of which we do not 
approve, certain of their moral offences, have a peculiar 
attraction for our imagination. . . . People whom we should 
otherwise think of as merely notable, or amiable, now seem 
to us very mysterious, and it cannot be denied that 
Winckelmann's change of religion has added greatly to the 
romance of his life and character." 

We can fancy how such an utterance enraged the 
Romanticists, who at that time were all on the point of 
going over to Catholicism. Thenceforward there was no 
more worship of Goethe. Tieck was in Rome, and the 
report spread that he was about to embrace the Catholic 
faith, to which his wife and daughter had become con- 
verts. Friedrich Schlegel was preparing to take the final 

VOL. 11. K 



i 4 o THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

step. He was lecturing at Cologne, but making application 
for a regular appointment in every likely quarter — Cologne, 
Paris, Wiirzburg, Munich, &c. u Given really tempting con- 
ditions," he wrote in June 1804, "I should have gone even 
to Moscow or Dorpat. But," he adds, " my preference was 
for the Rhine district." Was this because it was a Catholic 
district ? Not at all. " The salmon here is unequalled, so 
are the crayfish, not to speak of the wine." It was Metter- 
nich's pecuniary offer which finally induced him to take 
the decisive step and join the Church of Rome. He was 
furious at the essay on Winckelmann, though he expressed 
unbounded contempt for it. What is most amusing of all, how- 
ever, is to see how this little work fell like a bomb among the 
genuine political reactionaries in Vienna. Gentz was already 
approaching the stage which he had reached when he wrote 
to Rahel (in 18 14) that he had become terribly old and bad 
(unendlich alt und schlecht), describing his condition thus : 
"I must give you an idea of the form which my cynicism 
and egotism have taken. As soon as I can throw down my 
pen, all my thoughts and time are given to the arrangement 
of my rooms ; I am constantly planning how to procure 
more money for furniture, perfumes, and every refinement 
of so-called luxury. My appetite, alas 1 is gone. Breakfast 
is the only meal I take any interest in." 

In 1805 Gentz writes to his worthy friend, Adam Muller : 
u What struck me most in your letter was your criticism of 
Goethe's two latest productions. I know them both, but 
should never have dared to write as you do ; though I will 
not deny that my opinion of them is the same as yours, only 
still less favourable. The notes on Rameau are simply prosy 
and commonplace. To write such twaddle nowadays about 
Voltaire and D'Alembert is really inexcusable in a Goethe. 
The essays on Winckelmann are atheistic. I should never 
have credited Goethe with such a bitter and perfidious 
hatred of Christianity, though I have long suspected him of 
culpability in this matter. What indecent, cynical, faun-like 
joy he seems to have felt on making the grand discovery 
that it was really because Winckelmann was a " born pagan " 
that the different forms of the Christian religion were a 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 141 

matter of such indifference to him ! No ! even Goethe will 
not easily rise again in my estimation after these two books ! " * 

Goethe's essay, we observe, had gone straight to the mark ; 
the Romanticists felt as if they had received a slap in the face, 
when he declared himself hostile to their theory of art. 

We must now dwell a little on the conception of nature 
which corresponds to this conception of art. In Sternbald, 
as both Goethe and Caroline indicate, the reader's interest is 
distracted from the characters and the action by descriptions 
of scenery. 

We have seen that it was Rousseau who rediscovered the 
feeling for nature. As Sainte-Beuve says somewhere, play- 
ing upon Rousseau's own words about the swallow which 
had built its nest under the eaves of his first home : u He 
was the swallow that foretold the coming of summer in 
literature." The same feeling for nature, as has also been 
shown, reappears in IVerther. The transformation which it 
now underwent was this : Rousseau's point of view had been 
emotional, that of the Romanticists was fantastic. Hence ^ 

their return to legends and fairy tales, to the elves and 
kobolds of popular superstition. Goethe had said : 

" Natur hat weder Kern noch Schale, 
Alles ist sie mit einem Male." s 

The Romanticists were determined to have to do only with 
the kernel, with the mysterious inmost substance, which 
they attempted to extricate, after having themselves inserted 
it. The mystic mind mirrored itself in nature and saw in 
it nothing but mysteries. Tieck, as every one knows, coined 
the word Waldeinsamkeit (his friends maintained that it ought 
to be Waldeseinsamkeit). Romanticism shouted with quaver- 
ing voice into the Waldeinsamkeit (forest solitude), and echo 
returned quavering answers. 

Alexander von Humboldt has pointed out how the an- 
cients really only saw beauty in nature when she was smiling, 
friendly, and useful to man. With the Romanticists it is the | 

i Brufwechsd twiscken Gent* und Adam Afu/ler, 48. 
* " Nature has neither kernel nor shell, she is everything at one 
same time." 



142 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

reverse. To them nature is unbeautiful in proportion as 
she is useful, and most beautiful in her wildness, or when 
she awakens a feeling of vague fear. They rejoice in the 
darkness of night and of deep ravines, in the utter loneliness 
which produces a shudder of terror ; and Tieck's full moon 
shines as unchangeably over the landscape as though it were 
a theatrical one of oiled paper with a lamp behind it. I call 
it Tieck's moon, because it is incontestably Tieck who is the 
originator of the Romantic moonlit landscape. Nor is it 
difficult to understand how it should be he, rather than any 
other of the young writers, who originates such expressions 
as " forest solitude/ 1 " magic moonlit nights/' &c, &c. Tieck 
was born in Berlin, perhaps of all large towns the one whose 
surroundings possess the fewest natural attractions. Those 
sandy heaths of Brandenburg, with their tall, spare firs stand- 
ing stiffly in rows like Prussian soldiers, form as meagre a 
landscape as one could well find. Whilst Rousseau, living 
amidst scenery of paradisaic beauty (the neighbourhood of 
Geneva and Mont Blanc), was strongly, directly impressed by 
nature, Tieck, in his unlovely surroundings, was seized by 
the city-dweller's morbid longing for wood and mountain ; 
and this longing gave birth to a fantastic conception of 
nature. The cold daylight glare of Berlin, and its modern, 
North German rationalism awoke longings for the primeval 
forests and an inclination towards primitive poetry. 

To prove the truth of this assertion, one has only to read 
such a passage in the biography of Tieck as the following 
account of his stay in Halle in 1 792 : " How entirely dif- 
ferent was the nature which met his eyes here in the green 
valley of the Saale, how much richer and more friendly 
than the fiat heaths surrounding Berlin I The feeling of 
infinite longing seized him with redoubled force, and filled 
his heart with almost painful excitement as he wandered 
through the woods in the springtime. Once more he became 
intoxicated with nature ; a mysterious power seemed to drive 
him onwards. His favourite resting-place was the Holty 
bench near Giebichenstein, from which he overlooked the 
river and the valley. How often did he watch the sun sink 
beneath the clouds and the moon mirror herself with a 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 143 

thousand golden beams in the rippling water, or gleam 
dreamily through the branches 1 Here he lay many a 
summer night, drinking in nature in ample draughts." 

Is not this the longing for nature of the man who is an 
exile from it, the view of nature which has the city pavement 
as its background ? 

In the description given of the evening after a tiring 
walk taken by Tieck and Wackenroder in the Fichtelgebirge, 
Tieck's conception of nature is still more distinctly associated 
with his personal impressions : " Wackenroder, unaccustomed 
to such fatigue, flung himself at once upon the bed, but Tieck 
was too excited. He could not sleep after all the experiences 
of that day. The spirits of nature awoke. He opened the 
window. It was the mildest, most magnificent summer 
night The moon shed her soft, clear beams upon him. 
There it was before his eyes, the moonlit, witching night, 
nature with her ancient, yet ever new marvels and magic ! 
His heart once again swelled high. To what far, unknown 
goal was he being drawn with irresistible force ? Softly and 
soothingly the clear tones of a horn came floating through 
the night. A feeling of sadness stole over him, and yet he 
was intensely happy." l 

Observe that not even the horn is wanting. What is 
wanting, what Tieck is destitute of, is any definite aim. We 
have the same thing in Sternbald, where the wandering artist, 
led only by his longings and his prophetic enthusiasm, is 
always, as he himself confesses, forgetting his real aim. " It 
is not possible," says one of the characters in the book, 
" to forget one's aim, for this reason, that the sensible man 
arranges matters so that he has no aim." No one can fail to 
see the close connection between this particular species of 
feeling for nature and Romantic arbitrariness, nor how they 
mutually develop each other. 

Let us see the kind of landscapes which Franz Sternbald 
understands and paints, and how he understands and paints 
them. 

In one part of the book we read : " This was the land- 
scape which Franz intended to paint; but the real scene 

1 Kopke, L 139, 163. 



144 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

seemed very prosaic to him, compared with its reflection in 
the water." Clear outlines, definite forms, are dry prose ; but 
the reflection in the water, the picture as it were to its second 
power, is Romantic refinement, duplication, glorification. In 
another part Franz says : " I should choose to paint lonely, 
terrible scenes — ruinous, crumbling bridges spanning the 
space between two precipitous rocks, with a foaming torrent 
raging in the abyss below; strayed travellers whose cloaks 
flap in the wet wind ; horrid brigands rushing from their 
caves, stopping and plundering carriages, and fighting with 
travellers." Real stage scenery this, with melodrama into 
the bargain ! 

And in what spirit is nature apprehended ? " Sometimes," 
says Franz, " my imagination sets to work and will not rest 
until it has thought out something quite unheard of. It 
would have me paint strange objects, of complicated and 
almost incomprehensible construction — figures composed of 
parts of all kinds of animals, their lower extremities being 
plants ; insects and reptiles with a strange humanness about 
them, expressing human moods and passions in a wonderful 
and horrible manner." 

What a picture ! what a jumble of monstrosities ! Can 
you not hear Hoffmann fast approaching with his caravan of 
monsters ? The elephant stands on his head, and has a trunk 
which ends in a garfish ; the cat writes its memoirs ; the 
door-knocker is really an old market-woman, &c, &c. Are 
we not reminded here again, as in Der Freischute, of the 
temptations of St. Anthony, as painted by Teniers, or, better 
still, by Hflllen-Breughel, with a regular witches' Sabbath. 
To the genuine Romanticist, nature, with all her myriads of 
living forms and beings, seems a great toy-cupboard, and all 
the toys babble and chatter like those in Andersen's fairy tale. 

Read this description of a romantic landscape taken from 
Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingenl "From a height they 
looked down upon a romantic country, strewn with towns 
and castles, with temples and tombs, a country which united 
the gentle charms of inhabited plains with the terrible charms 
of deserts and precipitous mountains. The most beautiful 
colours were happily blended. ' Mountain peaks gleamed like 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 145 

fireworks in their coverings of ice and snow. The smiling 
plain was clothed in the freshest of green. The distance 
decked itself in every shade of blue, and the deep blue of 
the sea threw into relief the innumerable bright pennons 
waving from the masts of numerous fleets. In the back- 
ground we could see a shipwreck, in the foreground a merry 
country feast ; far off the terribly beautiful eruption of a 
volcano and the desolation wrought by an earthquake, 
and near at hand a pair of lovers exchanging the sweetest 
caresses under sheltering trees. On one side of this scene 
a frightful battle was raging, and at no great distance from 
the battle was to be seen a theatre with a ludicrous play going 
on. Upon the other side, in the foreground, the corpse of 
a young girl lay upon a bier, with an inconsolable lover and 
weeping parents kneeling by its side ; in the background sat 
a sweet mother with her child at her breast, angels nestling at 
her feet, and peeping through the branches above her head." 

What a pot-pourri ! And over it all is shed the indis- 
pensable pale, yellow light of that friend and well-wisher, 
protector and betrayer of lovers, that supreme comforter 
and divinity of the Romanticists — the man in the moon. 
He is their salvation. His round face and his profile have 
exactly the degree of distinctness permissible or possible in 
a Romantic countenance. All the knights of Romanticism 
wear his yellow livery. And a truer knight of the moon 
than Franz Sternbald is not to be found. 

11 I would," he says, " that I could fill the whole world 
with my song of love, that I could move the moonlight and 
the rosy dawn, so that they should echo my grief and happi- 
ness, until trees, branches, leaves, and grass all took up the 
melody, repeating it as with millions of tongues." Here- 
upon he sings a " moonlight song " : 

" H interim Wasser wie flimmernde Flammen, 
Berggipfel oben mit Gold beschienen, 
Neigen rauschend und ernst die griinen 
Gebusche die blinkenden Haupter zusammen. 

Welle, rollst du herauf den Schein, 

Des Mondes rund freundlich Angesicht ? 

Es merkfs und freundlich bewegt sich der Hain, 

Streckt die Zweig' entgegen dem Zauberlicht 



146 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Fangen die Geister an auf den Fluthen zu springen, 
Thun sich die Nachtblumen auf mit Klingen, 
Wacht die Nachtigall im dicksten Baum, 
Verkiindigt dichterisch ihren Traum. 
Wie helle, blendende Strahlen die T6ne nieder fliessen, 
Am Bergeshang den Wiederhall zu griissen." * 

Here we have it all ! The glittering flames of the moon, 
bushes with twinkling heads, rolling billows bearing on- 
wards the face of the full moon, spirits dancing upon 
waves, night as described by Novalis, night flowers, and 
a nightingale whose song flows like clear, dazzling moon- 
beams. 

And exactly the same thing recurs again and again. 
Franz has a dream : " Unperceived, he painted the hermit 
and his devotion, the forest and its moonlight ; he even suc- 
ceeded, he himself knew not how, in getting the nightingale's 
song into his picture." Oh, that musical pictorial art! 
Was not Goethe right in saying that there is more music 
than painting in the book ? 

It is very significant that the man who revelled thus 
in the fantastic suggestions of a district where nature was 
poor and sterile, should have altogether failed to appreci- 
ate the richness and luxuriance, the abundance of healthy 
sap and vigour, which distinguish the south of England. 
Shakespeare has had few such fervent admirers as Tieck ; 
and Tieck naturally had the desire to see # with his own 
eyes the natural surroundings amidst which his great 
teacher and master had spent his life, and from which he 
had derived his earliest impressions. He expected much. 
But, oh 1 what a disappointment ! That mind which fancied 
itself akin to Shakespeare's found nothing congenial in the 
scenery round Shakespeare's home. The chief characteristic 

1 " Beyond the lake there's a glittering and flaming ; the mountain-tops are tipped 
with gold ; gravely the bushes rustle and bend, and lay their twinkling green heads 
together. Wave, art thou rolling to us the reflection of the round, friendly face of 
the moon ? The trees recognise it, and joyfully stretch forth their branches towards 
the magic light. The spirits begin to dance on the waves ; the flowers of the night 
unfold their petals with melodious sound ; where the leaves are thickest the nightin- 
gale awakes and tells her dream ; her notes flow forth like clear, dazzling beams, to 
greet the echo on the mountain side." 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 147 

of these counties is an almost incredible luxuriance and vigour 
of growth. But this wealth of vegetation is unpoetical to the 
Romanticist, because it is useful, because it has a purpose. 
Only the blossom which bears no fruit is romantic. We 
understand his disappointment. Nowhere else does one see 
such mighty, spreading oaks, nowhere such high and succu- 
lent grass. As far as the eye can reach, the green carpet 
spreads over the undulating fields and the rich meadows, 
where magnificent cattle graze and ruminate. Quantities of 
white, yellow, and blue meadow and field flowers break the 
monotony of colour, and breathe a perfume which the 
moisture of the air keeps so fresh that it never palls. This 
vegetation is above all else fresh, not, like that of the south, 
striking in its contours. The watery, juicy plant does not 
live long ; life streams through it and is gone. The moist 
air envelops trees and plants in a sort of luminous vapour 
which catches and tempers the sunbeams ; and, as in Den- 
mark, banks of clouds constantly traverse the pale blue sky. 
When this sky happens to be for a short time perfectly clear, 
and the sun reaches the earth without passing through mist, 
the rain and dewdrops sparkle on the green grass and 
upon the silken and velvet petals of the myriads of gay 
flowers more brilliantly than diamonds. What matter that 
the grass is destined to be eaten? Does not part of its 
beauty lie in its nutritious look? What matter that the 
fruitful fields are cultivated with the assistance of all the 
newest agricultural machinery, or that the cattle are tended 
with the most intelligent solicitude? Is not this the very 
reason why both animals and plants look so strong, so well 
nourished, and so nourishing? What we have here is 
certainly not the imposing beauty of the desert or the 
ocean, or of Swiss scenery. But has not this landscape a 
poetry of its own ? Who can have spent an evening in Kew 
Gardens without mentally placing the elfin dance from A 
Midsummer Nights Dream, or The Merry Wives of Windsor in 
exactly this scenery, these beautiful parks, with their gigantic 
old oaks ? It was in these surroundings that Shakespeare 
wrote them. We can divine with what eyes he looked upon 
the landscape. With what eyes does Tieck look upon it ? 



148 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

11 Having seen London," says Kopke, il he wished to make 
acquaintance with some other part of England. Where 
should he turn his steps, if not to Shakespeare's birth- 
place? On the way he visited Oxford, But neither was 
this scenery io his taste. The country they drove through 
was luxuriantly green, splendidly cultivated ; but it was too 
well ordered, too artificial (No primitive poetry !) ; it had 
lost its originality. It lacked that simplicity, that holiness, 
as he called it, which touches the heart, and by which he 
had so often been moved in the most sterile parts of his 
native land. Here industry had destroyed the poetic 
aroma/' 

It is clear, then, that there must have been something in 
the scenery of his own country which appealed to Tieck's 
personal predispositions. The fantastic conception of nature 
would not have been carried to such an extreme in this 
particular country, if there had not been something fan- 
tastic in the scenery of the country. It is very evident that 
German scenery must have met the fantastic spectator half 
way. 

In the first volume of this work, I attempted, by means 
of a description of Italian scenery, to show how unromantic 
even the most beautiful of it is. Nor, in spite of the Black 
Forest and the Blocksberg, can German scenery be called 
really fantastic ; for, as Taine says, it is only the beauty of 
art which is fantastic ; that of nature is more than fantastic ; 
the fantastic does not exist except in our human brain. 
Still, nature does provide excuses for a certain amount of 
fantasy. It is especially to be born in mind that in 
characteristically German scenery the sea is absent, and 
with it the feeling of wideness and freeness which it alone 
gives. In river and mountain scenery there is never the 
wide, open horizon to which we Danes are accus- 
tomed. 

But, not to lose myself in generalisations, let me give an 
idea of the scenery amidst which Tieck himself lived longest 
— that district in the neighbourhood of Dresden which goes 
by the name of Saxon Switzerland. I shall describe in a 
few words how it impresses me, and then proceed to show 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 149 

what impression it produces on a Romantic poet. This I 
can do reliably and exactly, for I have personally known 
several Romantic poets, and have recently travelled through 
the district in question in company with an old poet of 
Romantic tendencies. 

We had spent some days in the clear mountain air, 
looking out over the high open country and rocky peaks 
of Bohemia, which resemble a sea, with sharply outlined 
mountains emerging like islands — an interminable stretch of 
fields and pine-clad rocks. We went through the Utten- 
walder Grund up to the Bastei. The valley is shut in by 
high, fantastic sandstone rocks, piled up in layers, with pine 
trees clustering in every crevice. The upper part of the 
rock often projects threateningly over the lower, seeming 
as though about to fall. One sees many strange freaks of 
nature — gateways, even triple gateways. In climbing up to 
the Bastei, one has on the left that remarkable landscape 
with the steep rocks standing out like giant gravestones — 
tragic, awe-inspiring scenery, that would make a fitting 
background for the dance of the dead nuns in Robert le Diable. 
Standing on the Bastei, one looks over the great plain 
with its precipitous mountain islands (the fortress of Konig- 
stein is built upon one of these), straight, hard lines, 
absolutely unpicturesque. Kuhstall is an enormous dome 
of rock. The whole scenery has the appearance of being 
designed by man, of being a fantastic art production. 
The last time I saw it, in glorious sunlight, the view 
was marvellously imposing. Over the great pine-forest 
which clothed the lower heights, its tree-tops looking 
like felt or wool, lay a bluish green haze, which spread 
up the sides of the surrounding hills. The Bohemian 
villages lay in groups, shining like windows in the sun — 
in the distance were basaltic mountains, nearer at hand 
pyramidal, square, or obelisk-shaped rocks. Wherever a 
single deciduous tree stood among the pines, its yellow 
autumnal leaves shone amidst their dark surroundings like 
patches of gold. The only other yellow was that of the 
lichen upon some of the rocks. These rocks looked a* 
though giants in the morning of time had pelted e 



150 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

other with them, as children pelt each other with stones, 
or had played at heaping them one on the top of 
another. 

From the Wintersberg the hills look like the remains of 
a Cyclopean city. An enormous rock, steep and smooth as 
a wall, stands, decked with firs, in the centre of a wide 
landscape. Of all one sees, Prebischthor is perhaps what 
strikes one as being most beautiful. Here again the rocks 
have taken a fantastic shape, that of a gateway. A gigantic, 
beam-like rock has laid itself like a lintel across two rock 
towers. Sitting under it, one looks down upon two 
separate landscapes, one through the arch to the left, the 
other an open one upon the right. As I sat there in the 
evening, the first was hard, cold, austere ; over the other 
the sun was setting, red and glowing. The one was, 
as it were, in a major, the other in a minor key ; the one 
was like a face without eyes, the other glowed and 
beamed. 

Such was this scenery in the eyes of an ordinary, sober- 
minded traveller. The Romanticist who was my companion 
seemed to me to be less moved by the spectacle than I was ; 
at least he said very little about it during the course of the 
day. But when, towards night, we were making our way 
down the mountain, his imagination was suddenly fired. It 
was quite dark, and the darkness acted upon his nerves. 
It seemed to him as if more and more of the spirits of nature 
came forth, the darker it grew. And when, in the distance, 
we saw the first points of light coming from the windows of 
houses on the mountain side, houses which we could not 
distinguish on account of the darkness, he had the feeling that 
these windows must be in the rock itself, and that we could 
see in if we were only near enough. The illuminated panes 
were to him great eyes, with which the spirit of the mountain 
looked out at us; he felt as if the wooded hillside were 
watching us. He was in a weird, eccentric, genuinely 
Romantic mood, and I could not follow him. But on this 
occasion I had the opportunity of learning by personal 
observation how a German Romanticist of the good old days 
viewed nature ; how it was not until night that it really 



ATTITUDE TO ART AND NATURE 151 

became nature to him ; how he did not look at it, but to one 
side of it or behind it ; and by observing how much more, 
and yet how much less, my companion felt face to face with 
nature than I did, I arrived at an understanding of the 
legitimacy and the narrowness, the unnaturalness and the 
poetry of the Romantic conception of nature. 1 

1 The above is a faithful account of the effect produced by this scenery upon the 
Danish poet M. Goldschmidt in the autumn of 1872. 



XI 

ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 

Those among my readers who have stood in a room lined 
with mirrors, and seen themselves and everything else re- 
flected ad infinitum, above, below, on every side, have 
some idea of the vertigo which the study of Romantic art 
at times produces. 

Every one who has read Holberg's Ulysses von Ithacia 
remembers how droll the effect is when the characters, as 
they are perpetually doing, make fun of themselves and 
what they represent — when, for example, Ulysses exhibits 
the long beard which has grown during the ten years' 
campaign, or when we read upon a screen, " This is Troy," 
or when, at the close, the Jews rush in and tear off the 
actor's back the clothes which he had borrowed to play 
Ulysses in. Histrionic art, as every one knows, depends 
for its effect upon illusion. And illusion is an aim common 
to many of the arts. A statue and a painting deceive 
quite as much as a play, the illusion being contingent 
upon our momentarily taking the stone for a human 
being, and the painted flat surface for receding reality, in 
exactly the same way as we forget the actor in his r6le. 
This illusion, however, is only complete for a moment. 
It is, indeed, possible for the perfectly uneducated man to 
be entirely deceived. An Indian soldier in Calcutta shot an 
actor who was playing the part of Othello, exclaiming : " It 
shall never be said that a negro murdered a white woman in 
my presence ! " But in the case of the educated man, the 
illusion comes and goes ; it comes at the moment when the 
tragedy brings tears into his eyes, and goes at the moment 
when he draws out his pocket-handkerchief and looks at his 
neighbour. The effect of the work of art is, as it were, 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 153 

focussed in this illusion. The illusion is the reflection of 
the work of art in the spectator's mind — the appearance, 
the play, by means of which the unreal becomes reality 
to the spectator. 

In the simple, straightforward work of art no special 
attention is devoted to illusion ; it is not aimed at ; 
nothing is done to strengthen it or to give it piquancy ; but 
still less is anything done to destroy it. 

It is not difficult, however, to understand how a certain 
piquant quality may be communicated to the illusion pro- 
duced by any art. When, for instance, a Hermes, or 
any idol, is represented on a bas-relief, when a picture 
represents a studio or a room with pictures hanging on the 
walls, a strong indication is hereby conveyed that the bas- 
relief itself is not intended to affect us 'as statuary, nor the 
pictures as painting. And the same sort of effect is pro- 
duced when one or other of the characters in a comedy 
cries : u Do you take me for a stage-uncle ? " 

The theatrical illusion is still further heightened, or, to 
be quite correct, is still more entirely forgotten, when some 
of the characters in a play themselves perform a play, as in 
Hamlet or A Midsummer Night's Dream, It seems extra- 
ordinary or impossible that the spectators of this second 
play should also be acting. The illusion here is artificially 
strengthened, and yet at the same time weakened, by atten- 
tion being drawn to it. It is plain that this play with illu- 
sions had an immense attraction for Tieck ; it was inevitable 
that it should have. Since it is illusion which makes art serious 
reality to the spectator, ft is hy t he destroying of the illusio n 
that fr* j§ . made to feel st ro ngly that art Js free, fan ciful jglay. 

So Tieck mocks ironically at things~which are~usually 
ignored in order not to disturb the illusion. In Puss in Boots 
the King says to Prince Nathaniel : " But do tell me ; how is 
it that you who live so far away can speak our language so 
fluently?" Nathaniel: "Hush!" The King: "What?" 
Nathaniel : u Hush, hush ! For any sake be quiet, or the 
audience too will be finding out how unnatural it is." 
And, sure enough, one of the spectators presently remark 
" Why in the world can't the prince talk a for 



i 



154 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

language and have it translated by his interpreter ? What 
utter nonsense it all is ! " This last speech is of course 
sarcasm, aimed at that demand for realism in art of which 
Iffland and Kotzebue were advocates. We have one expres- 
sion of the demand in question in the French misconception 
of the Aristotelian doctrine of the unity of time and place. 
Writing on this subject, Schlegel, following Lessing's example, 
remarked that, after one had taken the great plunge and 
agreed to regard the stage as the world, it was surely easy 
to take the lesser one and sometimes permit the said stage 
to represent different localities. And the Romanticists were 
never weary of extolling the old Shakespearian theatre (where 
the place represented was simply intimated by a label 
attached to the scenes) as a higher development of art than 
that of their own day. The champions of realism in art 
were at that time advocating the substitution of solid walls 
for scenes ; Schlegel maintained that those who insisted on 
having three walls on the stage were logically obliged to go 
a step farther and have a fourth wall, on the side towards 
the audience. 

It is out of pure defiance of the philistine conception of 
art that Tieck amuses himself by seating an audience upon 
the stage and having the play within the play performed to 
the accompaniment of their critical remarks. They censure, 
they praise, now condemning a scene as superfluous, now 
approving the author for his courage in introducing horses 
upon the stage. While the learned man and the fool are 
disputing in the palace before the king upon his throne, the 
former says: "The gist of my argument is, that the new 
play Puss in Boots is a good play." " That is exactly what I 
deny," says the fool ; whereupon one of the audience cries 
in amazement : " What ! the play itself is mentioned in the 
play!" 

A still more extraordinary state of matters prevails in 
Die Verkehrte Welt (" The Topsy-turvy World"). As Scara- 
mouch is riding through the forest on his donkey, a thunder- 
storm suddenly comes on. One naturally expects him to 
take shelter. Not at all. " Where the deuce does this storm 
come from ? " he cries ; " there's not a word about it in my 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 155 

part. What absurd nonsense ! My donkey and I are 
getting soaked. Machinist ! machinist ! hi ! in the devil's 
name stop it ! " The machinist enters and excuses himself, 
explains that the audience had expressed a desire for stage- 
thunder, and that he had consequently met their wishes. 
Scaramouch entreats the audience to change its mind, but 
to no purpose ; thunder they will have. u What ! in a 
sedate historical play ? " It thunders again. " It's a very 
simple matter," says the machinist ; " I blow a little pounded 
colophony through a flame ; that makes the lightning ; and 
at the same moment an iron ball is rolled overhead, and there 
you have the thunder." Play with illusion cannot be carried 
further than this except by introducing in the play which 
the performing audience is witnessing, another play acted 
before yet another audience. " How extraordinary it is !" 
says Scavola, the blockhead ; " we are an audience, and 
yonder sit people who are an audience too." The plays are 
fitted into one another like puzzle-boxes. 

The madness reached its climax when, within this new 
inmost play, there appears yet another play. It is confusion 
worse confounded. " Nay, this is too much," cries Scavola. 
44 Just think of it, good people all ! Here we sit as an audience 
and watch a play ; in that play sits another audience 
watching a third play, and for the actors in that third play 
yet another play is being acted." And he goes on to explain, 
like a true Romanticist : " One often has dreams like this, and 
they are terrible ; and thoughts, too, sometimes spin them- 
selves in this fashion ever farther and farther into the heart 
of things. And both the one and the other are enough to 
drive a man crazy." 

But the music between the acts contains the key to the 
whole work. The lively Allegro says : " Do ye indeed know 
what ye desire, ye who seek for coherence in all things ? 
When the golden wine gleams in the glass and ye are 
animated by its good spirit, when ye feel doubly full of life 
and soul, and all the floodgates of your being are opened, 
what do ye think of then ? Can ye order and regulate 
then ? Ye enjoy yourselves and the harmonious confu 
And the Rondo says : " Whenever the philosopher is sui 

vol, 11. L 



i 



156 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

by a thing, and cannot understand it, he exclaims : ' There is 
no reason in it.' Nay, when reason penetrates to the heart 
of itself, when it has investigated its own inmost being and 
carefully observed itself, it says : 4 In this, too, there is no 
reason.' . . . But the man who with reason despises reason, 
is a reasonable man. Much poetry is prose gone mad, much 
prose is only crippled poetry ; that which lies between poetry 
and prose is not the best either. O music 1 whither tend 
thy steps ? Neither is there any reason in thee." 

In his critical writings Tieck himself gives us the clue to 
his procedure by averring that the aim of Romantic comedy 
is to lull the spectator into a dreamy mood. "In the midst 
of a dream," he says, " the soul often does not believe firmly 
in its visions ; but if the dreamer sleeps on, the endless 
succession of new magic appearances restores the illusion, 
keeps him in a charmed world, makes him lose the standard 
of reality, delivers him up at last completely to the dominion 
of the incomprehensible." 

Music is the formless deep to which the wearied 
imagination of the Romanticist returns after contemplating 
itself reflected ad infinitum in its mirror chamber. And the 
work of art may be likened to one of those carved ivory balls 
which enclose a whole set of ivory balls, one within the 
other. 

This style of drama was amusingly parodied by J. L. 
Heiberg in his witty satirical play, Julespdg og Nytaarsldjer 
(" Christmas Fun and New Year's Drollery "). There is less 
freedom and originality in Hoffmann's imitation, Prinzesstn 
Blandina, in which, in scenes laid behind the scenes, the 
Stage Manager and the Director discuss the play. The 
Stage Manager says : " Machinist, give the signal for 
night." Director: "Why, you are surely not going to 
have night already? It will disturb the illusion. It is 
hardly three minutes since Roderick breakfasted in the 
desert." Stage Manager : « It is the direction given in the 
book." Director : " Then it is the book that is crazy, and 
the play is written without the slightest understanding of 
dramatic art." 

In a different department of literature, in the writings of 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 157 

our Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, we come upon the 
mirror chamber with its repeated reflections psychologically 
applied. As the German Romanticist ironically hovers above 
his own play, with its Chinese puzzle-box scenes and figures, 
so the Danish psychologist draws further and further 
away from his subject by putting one author, as it were, 
inside another. Listen to his explanation in the Afsluttende 
Efterskrift (" Concluding Postscript ") : " My position is even a 
more external one than that of any author whose characters 
are imaginary, but who appears personally in his preface. 
A prompter, impersonal, or personal in the third degree, I 
have created authors whose prefaces, nay, whose very names 
are their own production. In the pseudonymous books there 
is not a word of my own ; I judge them as an uninterested 
third party, have no knowledge of their meaning except that 
of the ordinary reader, and not the most remote private 
connection with them, as is indeed impossible in the case of 
a doubly reflected communication. A single word from me 
personally, in my own name, would be a piece of presump- 
tuous self-forgetfulness, and would, from the dialectical 
point of view, destroy the pseudonymous character of the 
work. I am no more the publisher, Victor Eremita, than I 
am the Seducer or the Assessor in Enten-EUer; Eremita 
is the poetically real subjective thinker, whom we meet again 
in In Vino Veritas. In Frygt ogBatven (" Fear and Trembling ") 
I am no more Johannes de Silentio than I am the Knight of 
Faith whom he depicts ; and just as little am I the author of 
the preface to the book, it being a characteristic utterance 
of a poetically-real subjective thinker. In that tale of woe, 
Skyldig?—Ikke Skyldig? ("Guilty or not Guilty ?"), I am no 
more the experimenter than I am the subject of the experiment, 
since the experimenter is a poetically-real subjective thinker, 
and the being he experiments on is his psychologically 
inevitable production. I am a negligeable quantity, i.e. it is 
immaterial what I am. ... I have all along been sensible 
that my personality was an obstruction which the Pseudonymi 
must involuntarily and inevitably long to be rid of, or to 
have made as insignificant as possible, yet which they at the 
same time, regarding the matter from the ironical and refiec- 



158 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

tive standpoint, must desire to retain as repellant opposition ; 
for I stand to them in the ironically combined relation of 
secretary and dialectically reduplicated author of the author 
or authors." 

However different the causes of the reduplication may be 
in this case, the phenomenon itself is of near kin to the fore- 
going one. To keep the general public at a distance, to avoid 
laying bare his heart, and, most important of all, to avoid the 
tiresome responsibility entailed by speaking in his own name, 
Kierkegaard places as many authors between himself and 
the public as possible. Even taking his reasons into con- 
sideration, I confess that to me the proceeding seems 
super-subtle, a sort of reminiscence of the Romantic irony. 
For although Kierkegaard, as regards his matter, is in many 
ways ahead of Romanticism, he is still connected with it 
by his style. It is natural enough that he cannot, or will not, 
bear the responsibility for what his imaginary characters, the 
Assessor and the Seducer, say ; but it is pure imagination on 
his part to suppose himself capable of producing his authors 
at second hand, to suppose, for instance, that he has created 
the hero in the Engagement Story exactly as Frater Taci- 
turnus would have created him. Several of his would-be 
authors, Constantin Constantius and Frater Taciturnus, for 
example, are scarcely to be distinguished from one another, 
and there is nothing peculiarly characteristic about their 
productions. The third part of Stadieme (" Stages on 
the Road of Life") was, as Kierkegaard's own memo- 
randa show, originally intended to form part of Enten-Eller. 
When he remarks (in Afstuttende E/terskri/t, p. 216) that 
the most attentive reader will hardly succeed in finding 
in that work, either in language or turn of thought, a single 
reminiscence of Enten-EUer, he betrays great capability of 
self-deception. Both works show in every line that they are 
written by the same author ; in both we come upon the 
same thoughts, often expressed in almost the same words. 
The Assessor in Stadieme judges Aladdin exactly as he is 
judged by the iEsthete in Enten-Eller: "What makes 
Aladdin so great is the strength of his desire." 

Along with all this duplication and reduplication we have 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 159 

in the case of the Romanticists the wildest caprices in the 
matter of the order of presentation. The Topsy-turvy World 
begins with the epilogue and ends with the prologue ; by such 
pranks imagination proclaims its independence of all law. 
Frater Taciturnus records what happened to him last year 
along with what is happening to him this year ; every day at 
noon he notes down what happened that day a year ago 
(What a memory!), and at midnight what has occurred during 
the day. Naturally, it is almost impossible to separate the two 
threads of event. In Hoffmann's Kater Murr, the cat writes 
its memoirs on sheets of paper which have its master's, 
Kapellmeister Kreisler's, memoranda on the other side. Both 
sides of the sheets are printed, the one following the other, 
so that we read two utterly unconnected manuscripts mixed 
up with each other, often with interruptions in the middle 
of sentences or words. Wilfulness, caprice, play with one's 
own production could scarcely be carried farther. Yet the 
dissolution of established form did go further, much further. 
The Romanticists did not rest content with having shattered 
the conventions of art ; they proceeded to decompose the 
human personality, and that in many different manners. 

It was Novalis who led the way. In Heinrich von Ofter- 
dingen the hero seems to have a foreknowledge of everything 
that happens to him. "Each new thing that he saw and 
heard seemed only to shove back bolts, to open secret doors 
in his soul." But the strangest impression of all is produced 
on him by his discovery of a mysterious book in the cave of 
the hermit Count of Hohenzollern, a book in which, al- 
though he is as yet unable to interpret it, he finds the enigma 
of his existence, an existence beginning before his birth and 
stretching into the future after his death. Novalis's romance 
being an allegory and myth, his design being to make a 
single individual represent the whole eternal story of the 
soul, he turns to his purpose one of the oldest hypotheses of 
humanity, the idea that the individual reappears generation 
after generation. Thus the past and the future take part in 
the present, in the shape of memory and prophetic intuition. 
He does not actually believe in the transmigration of souls, 
but to him, the Romanticist who lives in the contemplation 



160 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

of the eternal, time is of such subordinate significance that, 
just as he recognises no difference between a natural and a 
supernatural event, so he sees none between past, present, 
and future. In this way the individual existence is extended 
throughout an unlimited period of history. 

In Danish literature we find this Romantic use of the 
idea of a previous existence in Heiberg's De Nygifte* The 
mother is telling her adopted son about the death of her 
real son :— 

" Den Morgen, da han led sin skraekkelige Dom, 
Endnu var det neppe daget — 
Traadte Slutteren ind og sagde : ' Kom 1 
Klokken er nu paa Slaget' 

" Da sank han for sidste Gang til mit Bryst 
Og udbrod : ' Et Ord du mig give, 
Et kraftigt Ord, som kan vaere min Trdst 
Paa min sidste Gang i Live 1" 

*Ogjeg sagde . . . 

Men, Fredrik, du skrsemmer mig 1 sig . . . 
Du rejser dig . . . hvad har du i Sinde ? 
Du stirrer paa mig saa bleg som et Lig • • • 

Fredrik. 
" O Moder 1 Moder 1 hold inde 1 

Du sagde : ' Naar du for din Frelser staar, 
Da sig : Min Gud og min Broder, 
Tilgiv mig for dine Martyrsaar, 
For min Anger og for min Moder.' 

Gertrud 
"Hal hvorafveddudet? 

Fredrik, 

u Mig det var, 
Foist nu mig selv jeg fetter. 
Det er din virkelige Son, du har, 
Og nu lever han Livet atter." l 

1 " The morning he suffered his terrible sentence, ere yet it was day, the warder 
entered and said : ' Come I the hour is about to strike.' Then he fell on my breast 
for the last time, crying : ' Say a word, a word of power, to strengthen me for the 
last steps I am to take on earth ! ' And I said . . . But, Fredrik, you frighten me. 
What is it? Why do you rise and gaze on me thus, pale as a corpse? Fredrik— 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 161 

Heiberg here makes a beautiful and ingenious use of the 
idea. But the Romanticists are not content with this. 
It is not enough for them to transpose the personality 
into the past, or to deck it with the bright peacock's tail of 
future existences. They split the Ego into strips, they re- 
solve it into its elements. They scatter it abroad through 
space, as they stretch it out through time. For the laws of 
space and time affect them not. 

Self-consciousn ess ift fiftl^- duplication . But it is an un- \ 
healthy self which cannot overcome and master this self- 
duplication. This we saw in the case of Lovell and of 
Roquairol. There is no greater misery than morbid self- 
contemplation. He who indulges in it separates himself 
from himself, observes himself from the point of view of a 
spectator, and ere long experiences the horrible feeling of the 
prisoner who, when he looks up, sees the eye of the warder 
at the little glass pane in the door of his cell. His own eye 
has become quite as terrible to him as another man's. What 
tends to make this condition permanent is partly the religious 
and moral feeling that one ought never to lose sight of, 
but to be always labouring at and improving one's self, 
and partly natural curiosity regarding the unknown ; one 
looks upon one's self as a country, the coast of which is 
known, but the interior of which is still to be explored. 

In the case of the man who is healthy in mind and body, 
this exploration goes on slowly, almost imperceptibly. One 
fine day the poor prisoner, looking up from his work, finds 
that the eye has disappeared from the peep-hole. Only now 
does he begin to breathe, to live. Whether his work be 
important or unimportant, divine or merely useful, whether 
he be a Michael Angelo or a cork-cutter, from that moment 
there is a feeling of balance and unity in his mind ; he feels 
that he is an entire being. In the case of sickly, inactive 
natures, the eye is never removed from the peep-hole, and a 
long continuation of this condition leads the individual to 

O mother ! mother ! stop ! You said : ' When you stand before your Creator, say : 
My God and my Brother, forgive me for the sake of Thy passion, of my repentance, 
and of my mother ! ' Gtrtrud—0\ tell how you know this ? Frtdrik — Because 
it was to me you spoke ; not till this moment have I understood myself ; I am your 
own son, now living life over again." 



J - 



1 62 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the verge of madness. But it is to this very condition that 
the Romanticists cling. It is this which gives birth to 
the Romantic idea of the " Doppelganger," * an idea which 
finds its first expression in Jean Paul's Leibgeber-Schoppe (in 
the meditation on Fichte's Ego), and is to be found in almost 
all Hoffmann's tales, reaching its climax in his chief work, 
Die Elixire des Teufels. It crops up in the writings of all 
the Romanticists ; we have it in Kleist's Amphitryon, in 
Achim von Arnim's Die beiden Waldemar, in Chamisso's 
poem, Erscheinung, and Brentano treats it comically in Die 
mehreren WehmUlkr. To Hoffmann the Ego is simply a 
disguise worn on the top of another disguise, and he amuses 
himself by peeling off these disguises one by one. He 
carries out what Roquairol only suggested. 

Theodor Hoffmann's life explains the peculiar form which 
Romantic self-duplication took in his case. He was born in 
Konigsberg in 1776, the son of parents whose inharmonious 
union was soon dissolved. His mother belonged to a pain- 
fully well-regulated and conventional family ; his father was 
as eccentric as he was clever, and had irregular habits which 
were a great affliction to his wife's relations. Theodor lost his 
mother early, and the pedantic severity with which his uncle 
brought him up only made the gifted boy's occasional wild 
outbursts wilder and madder. He found vent for his feel- 
ings in peculiar musical compositions and remarkably clever 
caricatures. He studied law as a profession, but at the same 
time devoted much attention to music. At an early age he 
fell in love with a young married woman. Feeling that the 
violence of this passion was undermining his reason, he 
cured himself of it by tearing himself away from his native 
town, at the age of twenty. 

Soon after this he received a government appointment in 
Posen. The wild dissipation which prevailed in Poland in 
those days carried him completely off his feet and materially 
altered his character. For caricaturing one of his superiors 
he was removed to Plozk, where he led a more regular life. 

1 The apparition of a person, which appears to himself. There being no exact 
English equivalent of " Doppelganger " and " Doppelgangerei," these words are 
retained throughout in German. — Trans/. 




HOFFMANN 



^ 

^ 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 163 

In 1804 he was transferred to Warsaw, at that time a 
Prussian town ; and it was the full, varied, and, to a German, 
quite foreign life of this important city which gave Hoff- 
mann's literary tendencies their decisive, final bent. Much 
that is mad and strange in his writings may be attributed to 
the wild, reckless joviality of the Warsaw days. In Warsaw 
he met Zacharias Werner, another author who was distinctly 
influenced by the social life of Poland in the beginning of 
the century. And here, whilst conscientiously fulfilling the 
duties of his appointment, he not only found time to culti- 
vate his favourite art, music, and to frequent the society of 
other musical devotees, but also managed to decorate several 
halls with frescoes, to ornament a library with alto-reliefs 
executed in bronze, and to paint a room in the Egyptian 
style, adroitly introducing amongst the extraordinary re- 
presentations of Egyptian gods, caricatures of his acquaint- 
ances, whom he provided with tails and wings. It was 
in Warsaw too that he conducted concerts for the first 
time. 

In 1806, as every one knows, Prussian rule in Warsaw 
came to an end. Hoffmann saw the streets of the town 
crowded, first with the vanguard of the Russian army — 
Tartars, Cossacks, and Bashkirs — then with Murat's troops, 
watched the migrations of the races set in motion by 
Napoleon's campaign, and at last saw Napoleon himself, 
whom he, the good German, abhorred as a tyrant. In 
Dresden, in 1813, he was eye-witness of several small skir- 
mishes and one battle ; he walked over a battlefield, lived 
through a famine and a species of plague which followed in 
the train of the war — in short, his imagination was fertilised 
by all the horrors of the period, the first result being, charac- 
teristically enough, merely a set of funny caricatures of the 
French. 

When still quite a young man, he had married a beau- 
tiful Polish lady, who made him a devoted and patient wife ; 
it was probably thanks to her that, in spite of his over- 
strained nerves, he lived as long as he did. His marriage 
by no means precluded many passionate attachments to 
other women, but all these seem to have had their root 



164 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

rather in imagination than in any real feeling. Three days 
after a young lady with whom he was madly in love had 
engaged herself to another, he was perfectly happy, having 
cured himself of his passion by satirising it. He was helped 
to bear his woe by the pleasure of caricaturing it. 

After figuring as a theatrical architect in Bamberg and 
conductor of an orchestra in Dresden, he went to Berlin, 
where he spent the last years of his life as a member of the 
Kammergericht (one of the principal courts of justice). As 
was natural, the astonishingly gifted man who could write 
books, improvise on the piano, compose operas, draw carica- 
tures, and scintillate wit when he was in the humour, 
became a lion in social circles and a feted frequenter of 
the taverns. He devoted a great share of his energy 
and talent to the observation of his own moods, which he 
watched closely and described day by day in a kind of 
diary. 

Wine, which he only regarded as an exciting stimulant, 
was in reality much more than this to him. To it he owed 
much of his inspiration, his visions, those hallucinations 
which at first were fanciful, but became ever more serious. 
In his case intoxication actually produced a new kind of 
fantastic poetry. When under the influence of alcohol, he 
saw the darkness suddenly illuminated by phosphorescent 
light, or saw a gnome rise through the floor, or saw him- 
self surrounded by spectres and terrible grimacing figures, 
which went on disappearing and reappearing in all kinds of 
grotesque disguises. 

It was almost inevitable that this painstaking observer of his 
own moods and of the external peculiarities, more especially 
the oddities, of other men, should care little about nature. 
If he took a walk in summer, it was only to reach some place 
or other where he would be certain to meet human beings ; 
and he seldom passed a pastry-cook's or a tavern without 
dropping in to see what kind of people frequented it. This 
explains the striking want of any feeling for fresh, open-air 
nature in his books. His mind was at home in a tavern, not 
in forest solitudes. But if his sense of the beauties of nature 
was weak, his enthusiasm for art was so much the more 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 165 

intense; genuine Romanticist that he is, half of his pro- 
ductions treat of art. 

The peculiar, Romantic theory of human personality held 
by a poet of this temperament and this development was a 
product of over-impressionable and over-strained nerves and 
of irregular living. In his diary I find the following memo- 
randa : — 

" 1804. — Drank Bischof at the new club from 4 to 10. Frightfully 
agitated in the evening. Nerves excited by the spiced wine. Possessed 
by thoughts of death and Doppelganger. 

" 1809. — Seized by a strange fancy at the ball on the 6th ; I imagine 
myself looking at my Ego through a kaleidoscope — all the forms moving 
round me are Egos, and annoy me by what they do and leave undone. 

" 1810. — Why do I think so much, sleeping and waking, about 
madness? 1 * 

It was a settled conviction with Hoffmann that when any- 
thing good befalls a man, an evil power is always lurking in 
the background to paralyse the action of the good power. As 
he expresses it : " The devil thrusts his tail into everything." 
He was haunted, says his biographer, Hitzig, by a fear of 
mysterious horrors, of " Doppelganger " and spectral appa- 
ritions of every kind. He used to look anxiously round 
while writing about them ; and if it was at night, he would 
often wake his wife and beg her to keep him company till 
he had finished. He imparted his own fear of ghosts to the 
characters he created ; he drew them " as he himself was 
drawn in the great book of creation." It does not surprise 
us to learn that of his own works, he preferred those which 
contain the most gruesome pictures of madness or the 
weirdest caricatures — Bratnbilla, for instance. 

He relies for effect, in a manner which soon becomes 
mannerism, upon the sharp contrasts with which he ushers 
in his terrific or comical scenes. From the commonest, 
most prosaic every-day life we are suddenly transported into 
a perfectly distorted world, where miracles and juggling 
tricks of every kind so bewilder us that in the end no 
relation, no species of life, no personality, seems definite 
and certain. We are always in doubt as to whether we are 



166 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

dealing with a real person, with his spectre, with his essence 
in another form or other power, or with his fantastic 
u Doppelganger." 

In one of the lighter tales of Hoffmann's last period, 
Der Doppelgdnger, the two principal characters resemble 
each other so closely that one is constantly being taken 
for the other; the one is wounded instead of the other; 
the betrothed of the one cannot distinguish him from the 
other, &c, &c. All kinds of absurd mistakes are made 
possible, and the dread of u Doppelgangerei " is turned to 
good account. The common-sense explanation of the matter 
is insisted on (much as it is in Brentano's Die mehreren 
WehtnUller), simply because Hoffmann for once, by way of 
a change, fancied making some attempt at explanation. The 
explanation, as a matter of fact, explains nothing. All Hoff- 
mann really cared for was the fantastically gruesome effect, 
just as all Brentano cared for was the fantastically comical 
one. Der Doppelg&nger possesses no artistic merit. 

There is wittier and more audacious invention in the 
tale, The Latest Adventures of the Dog Berganza. In the first 
place, we are left uncertain whether the dog is a metamor- 
phosed human being or not ; he himself says : " It is possible 
that I am really Montiel, who was punished by being com- 
pelled to assume the shape of a dog ; if so, the punishment 
has been a source of pleasure and amusement." In the 
second place, even the dog, as dog, sees himself duplicated, 
and is conscious of the dissolution of the unity of his being. 
" Sometimes I actually saw myself lying in front of myself 
like another Berganza, another which yet was myself; and 
I, Berganza, saw another Berganza maltreated by the 
witches, and growled and barked at him." 

Still greater is the audacity, still more extravagant the 
whimsicality in the tale of The Golden Jar. In it an ugly old 
Dresden applewoman is at the same time the beautiful bronze 
knocker on Registrar Lindhorst's door. The metal face of the 
door-knocker occasionally wrinkles itself up into the old 
crone's crabbed smile. In addition to this, she is the odious 
fortune-teller, Frau Rauerin, and good old Lise, the fond 
nurse of the. young heroine of the tale. She can (like the 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 167 

fortune-teller in Der Doppelg&nger) suddenly change dress, 
shape, and features. When the matter of her parentage is 
cleared up, we learn that her papa was a " shabby feather 
broom/' made of feathers from a dragon's wing, while her 
mamma was a " miserable beetroot." 

Lindhorst, the stolid Registrar, who never seems to feel 
at home except when sitting in his library in his flowered 
dressing-gown, surrounded by old manuscripts, is also a great 
magician, who, in the middle of an ordinary conversation, 
suddenly begins to relate the most insane occurrences as 
if they were the most natural in the world. He tells, for 
instance, that he was once invisibly present at a party — quite 
a simple matter — he was in the punch-bowl. On another 
occasion he takes off his dressing-gown, steps without more 
ado into a bowl of blazing arrack, vanishes in the flames, 
and allows himself to be drunk. 

In creating these doubled and trebled existences, the 
character, for instance, of the Archive Keeper, who is a 
Registrar by day and a salamander at night, Hoffmann 
obviously had in his mind the strange contrast between his 
own official life, as the conscientious criminal judge, severely 
rejecting all considerations of sentiment or aestheticism, and 
his free night life as king of the boundless realm of imagina- 
tion — a life in which reality, as such, had no part. 

But of all Hoffmann's tales, it is Die Elixire des Teu/els 
("The Elixir of Satan") which makes the most powerful 
impression. Let us dwell for a moment on the hero of this 
romance, Brother Medardus ; for he is a typical character* 
It is impossible in a brief summary to convey any idea of 
the mysterious, weird horror of the book ; to feel this one 
must read it. A work more saturated with voluptuousness 
and horrors the Romantic School, with all its long practice 
in the style, never produced. — In a certain monastery is 
preserved a flask of Satanic elixir, which had belonged to 
St. Anthony. This elixir is believed to possess magic pro- 
perties. A monk who has tasted it becomes s nt 
that ere long he is the most famous preacher of 
tery. But his eloquence is not of a pious or he; 
a carnal, strangely exciting, daemonic 



1 68 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Medardus drinks from the flask. A charming woman, his 
penitent, falls in love with him, and a longing for the 
pleasures and delights of the world impels him to leave the 
monastery. He finds a young man, Count Viktorin, asleep 
in the forest on the edge of a precipice, and half accidentally 
pushes him over. From this time onwards every one takes 
him for the Count. 

" My own Ego, the sport of a cruel accident, was dissolved 
into strange forms, and floated helplessly away upon the sea 
of circumstances. I could not find myself again. Viktorin is 
undoubtedly pushed over the precipice by the accident which 
directed my hand, not my will — I step into his place." And 
as though this were not marvellous enough, he adds : " But 
Reinhold knows Father Medardus, the preacher of the 
Capuchin Monastery ; and thus to him I am what I really 
am. Nevertheless, I am obliged to take Viktorin's place 
with the Baroness, for I am Viktorin. I am that which 
I appear to be, and I do not appear to be that which I am. 
At strife with my own Ego, I am an unanswerable riddle 
to myself." 

Medardus, in his own form, now enters into relations with 
Viktorin's mistress, the Baroness, who has no idea that he is 
not Viktorin. He is possessed by carnal desires; women 
fall in love with him ; he gives himself up to sensual pleasures, 
and in order to attain the fulfilment of his wishes, commits 
crimes of every kind, including murder. Horrible visions 
haunt him and drive him from place to place. In the 
end he is denounced and imprisoned. In prison the 
confusion of individualities reaches a climax. " I could 
not sleep ; in the strange reflections cast by the dull, waver- 
ing light of the lamp upon the walls and ceiling, I saw all 
kinds of distorted faces grinning at me. I put out the lamp 
and buried my head in my pillow of straw, only to be still 
more horribly tormented by the hollow groans of the pris- 
oners and the rattling of their chains." It seems to him that 
he is listening to the death-rattle of his victims. And now he 
plainly hears a gentle, measured knocking beneath him. " I 
listened, the knocking continued, and sounds of strange 
laughter came up through the floor. I sprang up and 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 169 

flung myself upon the straw mattress, but the knocking 
went on, accompanied by laughter and groans. Presently, 
an ugly, hoarse, stammering voice began calling gently but 
persistently : ' Me-dar-dus, Me-dar-dus ! ' An icy shiver ran 
through my veins, but I took courage and shouted : ' Who 
is there ? Who is there ? ' " Then the knocking and stam- 
mering begins directly beneath his feet : « He, he, he ! He, 
he, he ! Lit-tle brother, lit-tle brother Me-dar-dus ... I 
am here, am here . . . le-let me in ... we will g-g-go 
into the woo-woo-woods, to the woo-woo-woods." To his 
horror he seems to recognise his own voice. Some of the 
flagstones of the floor are pushed up, and his own face, in 
a monk's cowl, appears. This other Medardus is, like him, 
imprisoned, has confessed, and is condemned to death. Now 
everything happens as if in a dream. He no longer knows 
whether he is really the hero of the events which he believes 
to have happened, or whether the whole is a vivid dream. 
" I feel as if I had been listening in a dream to the story of 
an unfortunate wretch, the plaything of evil powers, who 
have driven him hither and thither, and urged him on from 
crime to crime." 

He is acquitted ; the happiest moment of his life is at 
hand ; he is to be united to the woman he loves. It is their 
wedding day. "At that very moment a dull sound rose 
from the street below ; we heard the shouting of hollow 
voices and the slow rumbling of a heavy vehicle. I ran 
to the window. In front of the palace, a cart, driven 
by the headsman's apprentice, was stopping ; in it sat the 
Monk and a Capuchin friar who was praying loudly and 
fervently with him. Though the Monk was disfigured by 
fear and by a bristly beard, the features of my terrible 
Doppelganger were only too easily recognisable. Just as 
the cart, which had been stopped for the moment by the 
throng, rolled on again, he suddenly glared up at me with 
his horrible glistening eyes, and laughed loud, and yelled : 
1 Bridegroom ! Bridegroom ! Come up on to the house- 
top ! There we will wrestle with one another, and he 
who throws the other down is king and has the right to 
drink blood ! ' I cried : ' You monster ! What have I to 



170 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

do with you ?' Aurelia flung her arms round me and drew 
me forcibly away from the window, crying : ' For God and 
the Holy Virgin's sake ! ... It is Medardus, my brother 
Leonard's murderer, whom they are taking to execution.' 
• . . Leonard 1 Leonard ! The spirits of hell awoke 
within me, and exerted all the power they possess over the 
wicked, abandoned sinner. I seized Aurelia with such fury 
that she shook with fear : ' Ha, ha, ha ! mad, foolish woman ! 
I, I, your lover, your bridegroom, am Medardus, am your 
brother's murderer. You, the Monk's bride, would call 
down vengeance upon him ? Ho, ho, ho I I am king — I 
will drink your blood.' " 

He strikes her to the earth. His hands are covered with 
her blood. He rushes out into the street, frees the Monk, 
deals blows right and left with knife and fist, and escapes 
into the forest. " I had but one thought left, the hunted 
animal's thought of escape. I rose, but had not taken many 
steps before a man sprang upon my back and flung his arms 
round my neck. In vain I tried to shake him off ; I flung 
myself down ; I rubbed myself against the trees — all to no 
purpose — the man only chuckled scornfully. Suddenly the 
moon shone clear through the dark firs, and the horrible, 
deathly pale face of the Monk, the supposed Medardus, the 
Doppelganger, glared at me with the same appalling glance 
he had shot at me from the cart. ' He, he, he ! little brother ! 
I am w-w-with you still ; I'll n-n-never let you go. I can't 
r-r-run like you. Y-you must carry me. They were go- 
go-going to break me on the wh-wh-wheel, but I got 
away.' " This situation is spun out ad infinitum, but I 
forbear. To the end of the book one is uncertain of the 
real significance of the events, of the ethical tendency of the 
actions, so completely in this case has imagination disin- 
tegrated personality'. 

The Scandinavian author, Ingemann, has followed Hoff- 
mann in this path. He turns to account, for instance, the 
eeriness in the idea of loudly calling one's own name in a 
churchyard at midnight ; see his tale, The Sphinx, and others in 
the so-called Callot-Hoffmann style. 

But, as already observed, Romanticism is not content 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 171 

with stretching out and splitting up the Ego, with spreading 
it throughout time and space. It dissolves it into its 
elements, takes from it here, adds to it there, makes it the 
plaything of free fancy. Here, if anywhere, Romanticism is 
profound ; its psychology is correct, but one-sided ; it is 
always on the night side or on the inevitability of things, 
that it dwells ; there is nothing emancipating or elevating 
about it. 

In the old days the Ego, the soul, the personality, was 
regarded as a being whose attributes were its so-called 
capacities and powers. The words " capacity " and " power," 
however, only signify that there is in me the possibility of 
certain events, of my seeing, reading, &c. My true being 
does not consist of possibilities, but of these events them- 
selves, of my actual condition. My real being is a sequence 
of inward events. For me, my Ego is composed of a long 
series of mental pictures and ideas. Of this Ego, I 
constantly, daily, lose some part. Forgetfulness swallows 
up gigantic pieces of it. Of all the faces I saw on the 
street yesterday and the day before, of all the sensations 
which were mine, only one or two remain in my memory. 
If I go still farther back, only an exceptionally powerful 
sensation or thought here and there emerges, like a solitary 
rocky island, from the ocean of forgetfulness. We only 
keep together the ideas and pictures that remain to us from 
our past lives by means of the association of these ideas, 
that is to say, by the aid of the peculiar power they have, in 
virtue of certain laws, of recalling each other. If we had no 
numerical system, no dates, no almanacs, wherewith to give 
some coherence to our different memories, we should have 
an extremely slight and indistinct idea of our Ego. But 
however substantial the long inward chain may seem (and it 
is strengthened, it gains in tenacity, every time we run over 
its links in our memory), it happens that we at times intro- 
duce into it a link which does not belong to it, at times take 
a link from it and place it in another chain. 1 

The first of these actions, the introducing of new, incon- 
gruous links into the chain of memory, happens in dre- 

1 Tainc : De t Intelligence, iL 169. 
VOL. II. 



. 



172 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

We dream we have done many things which we have never 
done. It also happens when we have a false recollection. 
He who has seen a white sheet blowing about in the dark, 
and believes he has seen a ghost, has such a false recollec- 
tion. Most myths and legends, especially religious legends, 
come into existence in this way. 

It frequently happens, however, that, instead of adding 
links to the chain of the Ego, we withdraw them. Thus the 
sick man, when his mind is wandering, supposes that the 
words he hears are spoken by a strange voice, or endows his 
inward visions with an outward reality, as Luther did when 
he saw the devil in his room in the Wartburg ; and the 
madman not only partly, but entirely confuses himself with 
some one else. 

In a state of reason, then, the Ego is an artificial pro- 
duction, the result of association of ideas. I am certain 
of my own identity — in the first place, because I associate 
my name, that sound which I call my name, with the 
chain of my inward experiences, and secondly, because 
I keep all the links of this chain connected by the 
association of ideas, by virtue of which they produce each 
other. But, since the Ego is thus not an innate but an 
acquired conception, founded upon an association of ideas 
which has to maintain itself against the constant attacks of 
sleep, dreams, imaginations, hallucinations, and mental de- 
rangement, it is by its nature exposed to manifold dangers. 
Just as disease is ever lying in wait for our bodies, so mad- 
ness lies in wait at the threshold of the Ego, and every now 
and again we hear it knock. 

It is of this correct psychological theory, originally 
propounded by Hume, that the Romanticists, though they 
do not define it scientifically, nevertheless have a presenti- 
ment. Dreams, dipsomania, hallucinations, madness, all the 
powers which disintegrate the Ego, which disconnect its 
links, are their familiar friends. Read, for instance, Hoff- 
mann's tale, The Golden Jar, and you will hear voices issue 
from the apple-baskets, and the leaves and flowers of the 
elder-tree sing ; you will see the door-knocker make faces, &c, 
&c. The strange, striking effect is here specially due to 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 173 

the way in which the apparitions suddenly emerge from a 
background of the most humdrum, ordinary description, 
from piles of legal documents, or from tureens and goblets. 
All Hoffmann's characters (like Andersen's Councillor in 
The Galoshes of Fortune, which is an imitation of Hoffmann) 
are considered by their neighbours to be either drunk or 
mad, because they always treat their dreams and visions 
as realities. 

Hoffmann created most of his principal characters in 
his own image. His whole life resolved itself into moods. 
We see from his diary how anxiously and minutely he 
observed these. We come on such entries as: "Roman- 
tically religious mood ; excitedly humorous mood, leading 
finally to those thoughts of madness which so often force 
themselves upon me ; humorously discontented, highly- 
wrought musical, romantic moods ; extremely irritable mood, 
romantic and capricious in the highest degree; strange, 
excited, but poetic gloominess; very comfortable, brusque, 
ironical, overstrained, morose, perfectly weak moods ; extra- 
ordinary, but miserable moods ; moods in which I felt deep 
veneration for myself and praised myself immoderately ; senza 
entusiastno, senza esaltazione, every-day moods," &c., &c. 

We seem to see the man's spiritual life spread and split 
itself up fan-wise into musical high and low spirits. It is 
easy to guess from this register of moods that Hoffmann, 
genuine lover of night as he was, was in the habit of going 
to bed towards morning, after having spent the evening and 
night in a tavern. 

Romanticism having thus dissolved the Ego, proceeds 
to form fantastic Egos, adding here, taking away there. 

Take, for an example, Hoffmann's Klein Zaches, the little 
monster who has been endowed by a fairy with the pecu- 
liarity " that everything good that others think, say, or do in 
his presence is attributed to him ; the result being that in 
the society of handsome, refined, intelligent persons he also 
is taken to be handsome, refined, and cultured — is taken, in 
short, for a model of every species of perfection with whi- 
he comes in contact." When the student reads aloud 
charming poems, it is Zaches who is credited with the 



174 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

when the musician plays or the professor performs his ex- 
periments, it is Zaches who gets the honour and the praise. 
He grows in greatness, becomes an important man, is 
made Prime Minister, but ends his days by drowning 
in a toilet-basin. Without overlooking the satiric sym- 
bolism of the story, I draw attention to the fact that the 
author has here amused himself by endowing one person- 
ality with qualities properly belonging to others, in other 
words, by dissolving individuality and disregarding its limits. 
With the same satirical intention, the same idea is worked 
out more ingeniously, though more roughly, by Hostrup, the 
Dane, in his comedy, En Spurv i Tranedans ("A Sparrow 
among the Cranes " = a dwarf among the giants), in which 
each one of the other characters attributes to the comical 
young journeyman tailor the qualities which he himself 
values most. 

Here we have Romanticism amusing itself by adding 
qualities to human nature ; but it found subtracting them 
an equally attractive amusement. It deprives the individual 
of attributes which would seem to form an organic part of 
it; and by taking these away it divides the human being 
as lower organisms, worms, for example, are divided into 
greater and smaller parts, both of which live. It deprives 
the individual, for instance, of his shadow. In Chamisso's 
Peter Schkmihl, the man in the grey coat kneels down before 
Peter, and, with admirable dexterity, strips the shadow off 
him and off the grass, rolls it up and pockets it — and the 
story shows us the misfortunes which are certain to befall 
the man who has lost his shadow. 

This same tale of Peter Schkmihl shows how Romanti- 
cism, as a spiritual force, succeeded in impressing a uniform 
stamp on the most heterogeneous talents. It would be 
difficult to imagine two natures more unlike than Chamisso's 
and Hoffmann's ; hence the plot of Chamisso's tale is as 
simple and readily comprehensible as the plots of Hoff- 
mann's are morbidly extraordinary. 

Adalbert von Chamisso was a Frenchman born, who 
acquired the German character remarkably quickly and 
completely, to the extent even of developing more than one 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 175 

quality which we are accustomed to consider essentially 
German. The son of a French nobleman, he was born in 
1 78 1 in the castle of Boncourt, in Champagne. Driven 
from France as a boy during the Reign of Terror, he became 
one of Queen Louisa of Prussia's pages, and later, at the 
age of twenty, a lieutenant in the Prussian army. He was 
a serious, almost painfully earnest, but absolutely healthy- 
minded man of sterling worth, brave and honourable, with a 
little of the heaviness of the German about him and much 
of the liveliness of the Frenchman. 

The reverse of Hoffmann, he was no lover of social 
pleasures, but all the more ardent a lover of nature. He 
longed on hot summer days to be able to go about naked 
in his garden with his pipe in his mouth. Modern dress, 
modern domestic life and social formalities he regarded in 
the light of burdensome fetters. His love of nature led 
him to circumnavigate the globe, enamoured him of 
the South Sea Islands, and is expressed in much of his 
poetry. 

Nevertheless, the imperceptible intellectual compulsion 
exercised by the age caused him, as author, to adopt Ro- 
mantic theories and write in the Romantic style. It is 
characteristic, however, that when in such a poem as 
Erscheinung ("The Apparition") he treats the Romantic 
idea of the H Doppelganger," he does it with a certain 
moral force which leaves on the reader's mind the impres- 
sion of genuine despair. The narrator comes home at night 
and sees himself sitting at his desk. u Who are you ? " he 
asks. " Who disturbs me thus ? " returns the u Doppel- 
ganger":— 

M Und er : * So lass wis, wer du seist, erfahren I ' 

Und ich : ' Ein solcher bin ich, der getrachtet 
Nur einzig nach dem Schonen, Guten, Wahren ; 
Der Opfer nie dem Gotzendienst geschlachtet, 
Und nie gefrdhnt dem weltlich-eitlen Branch, 
Verkannt, verhohnt, der Schmerzen nie geachte* • 
Der i trend zwar und traumend oft den Raurh 

Fur Flamme hielt, doch mutig beim Erwacher 
Das Rechte nur verfocht : — bist du da -- 



176 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Und er mit wildem kreischend-lautem Lachen : 

* Der du dich riihmst zu sein, der bin ich nicht 

Gar anders ist*s bestellt urn meine Sachen. 
Ich bin ein feiger, liigenhafter Wicht, 

Ein Heuchler mir und andern, tief im Herzen 

Nur Eigcnnutz, und Trug im Angesicht. 
Verkannter Edler du mit deinen Schmerzen, 

Wer kennt sich nun ? wer gab das rechte Zeichen ? 

Wer soil, ich oder du, sein Selbst verscherzen ? 
Tritt her, so du es wagst, ich will dir weichen I ' 

Drauf mit Entsetzen ich zu jenem Graus : 

' Du bist es, bleib und lass hinweg mich schleichen I' 
Und schlich zu weinen, in die Nacht ninaus." 1 

The painful moral self-recognition endows the ghost 
story with marvellous significance. 

Chamisso's double nationality was a source of much un- 
happiness to him in his younger days, when there was violent 
enmity between the land of his birth and his adopted 
country. In one of his letters to Varnhagen (December 
1805) he writes: "'No country, no people — each man for 
himself 1 ' These words of yours seemed to come straight 
from my own heart. They almost startled me ; I had to 
wipe away the tears that rolled down my cheeks. Oh 1 the 
same sentiment must have made itself felt in all my letters, 
every one 1 " 

When, in 1806, Napoleon began the war with Prussia, 
he issued an order that every Frenchman serving in the 
enemy's ranks should, when taken prisoner, be tried by 
court-martial and shot within twenty-four hours. Hence 

1 "He. Then tell who you are ! 

" /. I am a man whose one and only aim has been the beautiful, the good, the 
true. I have never sacrificed to idols, never pandered to the foolish requirements of 
fashion ; the pain caused by misunderstanding and scorn I have disregarded. In my 
wanderings, in my dreams, I have indeed often taken smoke for flame, but the moment 
I awoke I upheld what I knew to be the right. Can you say the same ? 

" He (with a wild, loud, grating laugh). / am not the man that you boast yourself to 
be, but one of a very different character. I am a cowardly, untruthful wretch, a 
hypocrite to myself and others ; my heart is the home of selfishness, deceit is on my 
tongue. You misunderstood hero of the many sufferings, which of us is it that knows 
himself? which of us has given the true description? which is the real man? Come 
here and take my place if you dare ? I am ready to make way for you. 

"/(with horrible conviction). You are the man! Stay here and let me slink 
away ! And out into the night I went, to weep." 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 177 

Chamisso, who had in vain demanded to be allowed to 
resign his commission, was exposed to the chance of a dis- 
graceful death. 

He visited France in the following year, but in Paris 
there was nothing to attract him. 4I Wherever I am," he 
complains, " I am countryless. Land and people are foreign 
to me ; hence I am perpetually longing." He was one of the 
bravest and most capable of German officers (his behaviour 
on the occasion of the surrender of Hameln proves this), 
but, as a Frenchman born and an admirer of Napoleon, 
he would have preferred not to have taken part in the war 
against France and the Emperor. 

After his resignation was actually accepted, he spent some 
time at the court of Madame de Stael, and made the acquaint- 
ance of her international circle of friends. The year 18 13, 
the year of Prussia's declaration of war against France, was 
the most trying of all for the unfortunate young Franco- 
German. His heart was divided ; he desired the fall of 
Napoleon because he hated despotism, but at the same time 
he felt every humiliation which befell the French troops 
during their retreat from Russia, and every insulting word 
spoken of the Emperor, as if the misfortune had happened, 
the insult been offered, to himself. And with this very 
natural feeling his German associates showed no forbear- 
ance. He often cried despairingly : " No, the times have 
no sword for me." "Action and inaction," he writes in 
May 1 81 3, " are equally painful to me." 

This was the mood which produced his most notable 
work, Peter Schlemihl. The great historical events which 
harrowed his feelings made him intellectually productive ; 
the summer of 18 13 was a turning-point in his life. " I 
had no longer a country," he says, " or as yet no cou,' 
And so the man without a country writes the tale of tl 
without a shadow. In spite of its intangibility, ? 
shadow is, like his country, like his home, one of hi? 
possessions, a thing which belongs to him from 1" 
which is, as it were, part of him. In ordinary circu 
it is regarded as so entirely natural that a man she 
a country, that it is hardly reckoned as a special p 






178 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

but is, like his shadow, taken as a matter of course. Chamisso 
gave expression to all his sadness, to the great sorrow of 
his life, in his daringly imagined fable. And strangely 
enough, he not only figuratively gave in it the essence of all 
his past experiences, but also prophetically imaged his future, 
his voyage round the world and his scientific labours. After 
Schlemihl has escaped from the temptations of the devil, he 
accidentally comes into possession of the seven-leagued boots, 
which take him to every country in the world, and enable 
him to pursue his favourite study to the greatest advantage. 
Schlemihl himself says : " My future suddenly showed itself 
clearly to the eyes of my soul. Banished from human 
society by the misdemeanours of my youth, I was thrown 
into the arms of Nature, whom I had always loved. The 
earth was given to me as a rich garden, study as the direct- 
ing influence and strength of my life, knowledge as its 
aim." 

The originality of its plot and the remarkable clearness 
of its style (this last a characteristic of all Chamisso's 
writing, and evidently his intellectual inheritance as a 
Frenchman) made Peter Schlemihl an extraordinary success. 
It was translated into nearly every language. Ten years 
after its publication a new kind of lamp, which cast no 
shadow, was named the Schlemihl lamp. 

Chamisso's success naturally roused Hoffmann to emu- 
lation. In the clever little Story of the Lost Reflection, the 
hero leaves his reflection in Italy with the entrancing 
Giulietta, who has bewitched him, and returns home to his 
wife without it. His little son, discovering suddenly one 
day that his father has no reflection, drops the mirror he 
is holding, and runs weeping from the room. The mother 
comes in with astonishment and fright written on every 
feature. u What is this Rasmus has been telling me about 
you?" she asks. "That I have no reflection, I suppose, 
my dear," answers Spikher with a forced laugh, and proceeds 
to try to prove that it is foolish to believe that a man can 
lose his reflection, but that even if the thing be possible, it 
is a matter of no importance, seeing that a reflection is 
simply an illusion. Self-contemplation only leads to vanity, 



ROMANTIC DUPLICATION AND PSYCHOLOGY 179 

and, moreover, such an image splits up one's personality 
into truth and imagination. 

Here we have the mirror chamber developed to such a 
point that the reflections move about independently, instead 
of following their originals. It is very amusing, very original 
and fantastic, and, as one is at liberty to understand by the 
reflection whatever one chooses, it may even be said to be 
very profound. I express no opinion, but simply draw 
attention to fact. 

We have seen that the Romanticist is instinctively, 
inevitably, the enemy of clearly defined form in art. We 
have seen Hoffmann mixing up the different parts of his 
book to the extent of having part of one story on the front, 
part of quite a different one on the back of the same leaf ; 
have seen Tieck composing dramas like so many puzzle 
balls one within the other, to prevent the reader taking them 
too seriously, and Kierkegaard fitting one author inside 
another in the Chinese box fashion, on the strength of the 
theory that truth can only be imparted indirectly, a theory 
which he ended by treating with scorn — we have seen, in a 
word, that the artistic standpoint of Romanticism is the 
exact opposite of the artistic standpoint of the ancients. And 
when, with their leaning to the supernatural, the Romanticists 
extend the personality of the individual throughout several 
successive generations, representing him as living before his 
birth and after his death, or represent him as a day-dreamer, 
half visionary and half madman, or humorously endow him 
with other men's attributes and despoil him of his own, 
fantastically filching now a shadow, now a reflection, they 
show by all this fantastic duplication and imagination that 
their psychological standpoint too, is an absolutely different 
one ; for in the days of old both the work of art and the 
personality were whole, were of one piece. The movement 
is a perfectly consistent one, regarded as the antipodes of 
classicism, in short, as Romanticism. 

But, granted that man is of necessity, by his very natun 
a divided, complex being, he is nevertheless, as the health 
vigorous personality, one. Aim, will, resolve, make him 
complete unit. If, as a natural product, the human bei: 



\ 



180 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

is only a group held more or less firmly together by 
association of ideas, as a mind he is a complete whole ; in 
his will all the elements of the mind are united. Romanticism 
only understood and depicted human nature with genius 
from the natural, from the night side. It made no closer 
approach in this than in any other of its endeavours to 
intellectual collectedness, unity, and liberty. 



XII 

ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 

The traveller who visits a mine is let down into a subter- 
ranean shaft in company with a man who carries a lamp, 
by the uncertain light of which they explore the hidden 
depths. It is on such an expedition that I now invite my 
readers to accompany me. The shaft to which we are about 
to descend is that of the German " soul/' a mine as deep, 
as dark, as strange, as rich in precious metal and in worth- 
less refuse as any other. We shall note the imprint received 
by this soul in the days of Romanticism, for this purpose 
dwelling at length on the Romanticist who above all others 
is the poet of the soul — Novalis. 

No word in any other language is the exact equivalent 
of the German word " Gemuth," here translated " soul." 
11 Gemflth " is something peculiarly German. It is the inward 
flame, the inward crucible. In the famous words of the 
" Wanderer's Sturmlied " : — 

" Innre Warme, 
Seelenw&rme, 
Mittelpunkt ! 
Gliih entgegen 
Phob-Apollon, 
Kalt wird sonst 
Sein Fiirstenblick 
Ueber dicb vorubergleiten," 

Goethe has described soul, and its significance in the poet's 

life. With those who have soul, everything tends inwards ; 

soul is the centripetal force of the spiritual life. To the 

man who sets soul above all else in human life, fervo 

becomes a patent of nobility. In their conception 

as in everything else, the Romanticists rush 

lii 



1 82 . THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

They magnify all that is mysterious, dark, and unexplained 
in the soul, at the expense of what is clear and beautiful. 
Goethe is to them the greatest of all poets, not because of his 
plastic power, but because of the obscurity, the daemonic 
mystery, surrounding such characters as the Harper and 
Mignon, and because of the pregnant intensity of his smaller 
poems. Lessing and Schiller, on the other hand, are not 
deemed poets at all, and are sneered at and disparagingly 
criticised because of the outward direction taken by their keen, 
energetic thought. For enthusiasm, strength of character, 
and all such qualities are not soul. Soul remains at home when 
enthusiasm draws the sword and goes forth to war. To the 
Romanticists the greatest poet is he who has most soul. 

The change which takes place in the case of the 
Romanticists is the turning of Goethe's " Seelenwarme " — 
warmth of soul — into heat, a heat which rises to the boiling 
or melting point, and in its intensity consumes all established 
forms and ideas. The glory of the Romantic poet is the heat 
and passion of the emotion which burns within him. What 
Novalis does is done with the force of his whole being. In- 
tense, reckless feeling is his motto. 

Friedrich von Hardenberg, a scion of an ancient house, 
was born at Wiederstedt, in the County of Mansfeld, in 
May 1772. His father, a man of a vigorous, ardent nature, 
had, after " leading a very worldly life," been converted at 
the age of thirty-one, when in great distress because of his 
first wife's death, to the faith of the English Methodists. At 
a later period he fell under the influence of the Moravian 
Brethren, more particularly of Count Zinzendorf ; and he 
was at all times strongly influenced by his elder brother, a 
bigoted and somewhat ignorant aristocrat of pietistic leanings. 
The elder brother's will was law in the younger*s household 
after the latter's second marriage ; his strict principles for- 
bade the family all social intercourse, and the children were 
obliged to keep their youthful amusements carefully con- 
cealed. In 1787 Novalis's father was appointed director of 
the saltworks in the little town of Weissenfels. 

Tieck became acquainted with the Hardenberg family in 
1799, and they made a profound impression on him. Kdpke 




4 

- 






NOVALIS 



A"' 

44 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 183 

says : " It was a quiet, serious life that they led, a life of 
unostentatious but sincere piety. The family belonged to 
the sect of the Moravian Brethren, and set forth its doctrines 
in their lives. Old Hardenberg, a high-minded, honourable 
man, who had been a fine soldier in his day, lived like a 
patriarch among his talented sons and charming daughters. 
Change and enlightenment in any form were his detestation ; 
he loved and lauded the good old, misjudged days, and on 
occasion could express his views very decidedly and defiantly, 
or blaze up in sudden anger." 

The following little domestic scene speaks for itself : — 
Tieck one day heard the old gentleman fuming and scolding 
in the adjoining room. " What has happened ? " he anxiously 
asked a servant who entered. u Nothing," was the dry re- 
sponse ; " it is only the master giving a Bible lesson." Old 
Hardenberg was in the habit of conducting the devotional 
exercises of the family, and at the same time examining the 
younger children on religious subjects, and this not in- 
frequently meant a domestic storm. 

Such was Friedrich von Hardenberg's home. He was a 
dreamy, delicate child, an intelligent, ambitious youth. In 
1 79 1 he went to Jena to study law. Those were the palmy 
days of that university, which then numbered amongst its 
professors such men as Reinhold, Fichte, and Schiller. 
Novalis found Schiller's lectures specially spirit-stirring, and 
the poet himself was to the young man " the perfect pattern 
of humanity." Fichte, whose acquaintance he also made, he 
enthusiastically called "the legislator of the new world- 
order." No one at that time could have foreseen in young 
Hardenberg the future high priest of obscurantism. 

We see him in those youthful days intensely absorbed 
in the study of his own Ego. His plans are constantly 
changing ; at one time he determines to be the diligent, 
ardent student, at another to throw up the pursuit of science 
and be a soldier. Strange as it may sound, the men whom 
he at this time regards as his models are those friends of 
freedom who were at the same time apostles of the gospel 
of utilitarianism. He writes to his brother : " Buy Franklin's 
autobiography, and let the genius of this book be your 



1 84 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

guide." We occasionally hear of a little youthful folly ; he 
is now and again in trouble because of debts he has con- 
tracted ; but he reasons very sensibly with his father, when 
the latter is inclined to take his peccadilloes too seriously. 

Father and uncle naturally regarded the French Revolu- 
tion with horror and loathing, but Friedrich and his elder 
brother were its ardent partisans. 

Things in Saxony being on too small a scale to suit 
Friedrich's taste, his kinsman, the Prussian Minister (after- 
wards Chancellor) von Hardenberg, offered him an appoint- 
ment in Prussia ; this, however, he was unable to accept, 
owing to his father's unwillingness to allow him to become 
a member of the liberal-minded Berlin cousin's household. 
He was finally sent to Tennstedt, near Erfurt, to acquire 
practical experience of the administration of the laws of the 
Electorate of Saxony under the excellent district magistrate, 
Just. 

Novalis's first friend among the Romanticists was Fried- 
rich Schlegel, whose acquaintance he made at Jena. The 
two had much in common, and Novalis at once fell under 
Schlegel's influence. At the age of twenty-five he writes to 
him : " To me you have been the high priest of Eleusis ; 
you have revealed heaven and hell to me ; through you I 
have tasted of the tree of knowledge." Young Hardenberg 
shows himself to be entirely free from political prejudice ; he 
takes a great fancy to Schlegel's landlord, because of the 
man's "honest republicanism," and jokes at Schlegel's severity 
in blaming him and the said landlord for their loyalty to the 
princely house. He has an extremely high opinion of 
Friedrich Schlegel as a critic, admires the fineness of the 
meshes of his critical net, which allows no fish, however 
small, to escape, and calls him "einen dephlogistisirten 
Lessing." 

When, in 1797, Schlegel visited Hardenberg at his home, 
he found him utterly broken down. A young girl, Sophie 
von Kuhn, to whom he had been passionately and absorb- 
ingly devoted, had just died. His despair took the form of 
longing for death, and he fully believed that his body must 
succumb to this desire and to his longing for the departed. 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 185 

Though he had no definite plans of suicide, he called the 
desire for annihilation by which he was possessed, " a firm 
determination, which would make of his death a free-will 
offering." It was under the influence of these thoughts that 
he wrote his Hymns to Night. 

This excess of despair, and also the singular circum- 
stance that Sophie, who died at the age of fifteen, was only 
twelve years old when he fell in love with her, seem to 
testify to something unhealthy and abnormal in Novalis's 
character. The impression is strengthened when we find 
him, only one year later, betrothed to a daughter of Von 
Charpentier, superintendent of mines. It is quite true, as 
La Rochefoucauld says, that the strength of our passions 
has no relation to their durability; nevertheless it is 
strange that Hardenberg could suddenly console himself 
with another, after finding his one pleasure for a whole 
year in the thought of death, talking for a whole 
year as if the grave held everything that was dear to 
him. It was a somewhat lame excuse that Julie seemed 
to him a reincarnation of Sophie, though the fancy 
was not a surprising one, considering how much the 
Romanticists dwelt on the idea of a previous existence. 
But here, as elsewhere in Hardenberg's life, much that is 
apparently unnatural is easily explainable when the circum- 
stances are rightly understood. Sophie von Kuhn seems, 
like Auguste Bdhmer, to have been a most precocious child. 
When the youth of twenty-three made her acquaintance, 
she possessed all the attractions of the child combined with 
those of the maiden. Her features were fine, her curly 
head was lightly poised, and there was a whole world in her 
large, dark, expressive eyes. More impartial judges than 
Hardenberg have called her u a heavenly creature." 

Sophie's bright, hospitable home presented a striking 
contrast to young Hardenberg's own ; he was fascinated 
(as was his elder brother) by the whole family ; and the 
young girl, who, had she lived, would perhaps have disap- 
pointed him by turning out worldly or insignificant, became 
his muse, his Beatrice, his ideal. When we remember that, 
almost at the same time with Sophie, Hardenberg lost his 



1 86 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

brother Erasmus, to whom he was united by an intimate 
and beautiful friendship, we cannot think it strange that life 
should have seemed to him to have lost all its charms. He 
regarded death not merely in the light of a release ; his 
mystical tendency led him, as already mentioned, to speak 
of it as " a free-will offering." He wrote in his diary at this 
time : " My death will be a proof of my understanding and 
appreciation of what is highest ; it will be a real sacrifice, 
not a flight nor a makeshift." It is at this crisis that he 
begins to turn in the direction of positive Christianity. Not 
that he dreamed of declaring allegiance to any particular 
Church, or belief in any particular set of dogmas, but his 
pagan longing for death assumed a Christian colouring. 
His inmost spiritual life had long been of such a nature 
that, had it not been for the influence of the spirit of the 
times, he might just as easily have become a determined 
opponent of all ecclesiastical doctrine. His state of mind 
seems to have been that indicated by Friedrich Schlegel 
when he wrote to him a year later: «' Possibly you still 
have the choice, my friend, between being the last Christian, 
the Brutus of the old religion, or the Christ of the new 
gospel." Shortly after this his choice was made. 

In December 1798 he still feels, when he compares 
himself with his friend Just, that he is only the apostle of 
pure spirituality. He does not, like Just, rely " with child- 
like mind upon the unalterable words of a mysterious 
ancient document ; " he will not be bound by the letter, and 
is inclined to find his own way to the primeval world ; in 
the doctrines of Christianity he sees an emblematic pre- 
figurement of the coming universal religion. "You will 
not," he writes to Just, " fail to recognise in this conception 
of religion one of the finest elements in my composition — 
namely, fancy." In other words, he consciously admits 
fancy to be at the source of his religious development. 

In the same year (1798) he sent some fragments to 
Wilhelm Schlegel for publication in the Athenceum, with 
the request that their author might be known as Novalis, 
"which is an old family name, and not altogether un- 
suitable." 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 187 

Tieck met Novalis for the first time when he visited 
Jena in the summer of 1799. August Wilhelm Schlegel 
brought them together, and they were soon devoted friends. 
The three spent the first evening in earnest conversation, 
opening their hearts to each other At midnight they 
went out to enjoy the splendour of the summer night. 
"The full moon," says Kopke, "was shedding a magic 
glory upon the heights round Jena." Towards morning 
Tieck and Schlegel accompanied Novalis home. Tieck has 
commemorated this evening in Phantasus. 

It was under Tieck's influence that Novalis wrote his 
principal work, Heinrich von Ofterdingen. While he was still 
engaged upon it, his young life was put an end to by con- 
sumption. He died at the age of twenty-nine, only two years 
after the meeting with Tieck and A. W. Schlegel above de- 
scribed. This early death, a remarkable degree of originality, 
and great personal beauty have combined to shed a poetic 
halo round Novalis. The St. John of the new movement, 
he resembled the most spiritual of the apostles in outward 
appearance also. His forehead was almost transparent, and 
his brown eyes shone with remarkable brilliance. During 
the last three years of his life it could be read in his face 
that he was destined to an early death. 

Novalis was seventeen when the French Revolution broke 
out. If one were asked to give a brief definition of the main 
idea of that great movement, one would say that it was the 
destruction of everything that was merely traditional, and the 
establishment of human existence upon a basis of pure 
reason, by means of a direct break with everything historic. 
The thinkers and heroes of the Revolution allow reason, as 
it were, to upset everything, in order that reason may 
put everything straight again. Although Novalis is deaf to 
all the social and political cries of the period, and blind to 
all its progressive movements, and although he ends in the 
most grim and repulsive reaction, he is, nevertheless, not 
merely influenced, but, all unconsciously, completely pene- 
trated by the spirit of his age. Between him — the quiet, 
introspective, loyal Saxon assessor — and the poor sans- 
culottes who rushed from Paris to the frontiers, singing the 

VOL. 11. N 



1 88 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

"Marseillaise" and waving the tricolour flag, there is this 
fundamental resemblance, that they both desire the de- 
struction of the whole outward and the construction of an 
inward world. Only, their inward world is reason, his is 
soul: for them, reason with its demands and formulae — liberty, 
equality, and fraternity ; for him, the soul, with its strange 
nocturnal gloom, in which he melts down everything, to 
find, at the bottom of the crucible, as the gold of the soul — 
night, disease, mysticism, and voluptuousness. 1 

Thus, in spite of his violent animosity to his age, Novalis 
belongs to it ; the direct opponent of all its enlightened and 
beautiful ideas, he is, despite himself, possessed by its spirit. 

What in Fichte and the men of the Revolution is clear 
reason, comprehending and testing everything, is in Novalis 
an all-absorbing self - perception, which becomes actual 
voluptuousness ; for the new spirit has taken such a hold 
upon him that it is, as it were, entwined round his nerves, 
causing a species of voluptuous excitement. What with 
them is abstract liberty, liberty to begin everything from 
the beginning again, with him is lawless fancy, which 
changes everything, which resolves nature and history into 
emblems and myths, in order to be able to play at will with 
all that is external, and to revel unrestrainedly in self- 
perception. As Arnold Ruge puts it : u Mysticism, which is 
theoretical voluptuousness, and voluptuousness, which is 
practical mysticism, are present in Novalis in equally strong 
proportions." 

Novalis is himself thoroughly conscious that, in spite of 
all its would-be spirituality, his hectic imagination inclines 
towards the sensual. Writing to Caroline Schlegel on the 
subject of Lucinde, he says : " I know that imagination 
(Fantasie) is most attracted by what is most immoral, most 
animal ; but I also know how like a dream all imagination 
is, how it loves night, meaninglessness, and solitude." He 
here affirms of imagination in general what applied particu- 
larly to his own. 

Tieck writes with enthusiasm of music, as teaching us to 
feel feeling. Novalis is a living interpretation of these words. 

1 A- Ruge, Werke, i. 247, &c 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 189 

He, whose aim is feeling, unrestrained, irresponsible feeling, v 
desires to feel himself, and makes no secret of the fact that 
he seeks this self-enjoyment. Therefore to him sickness is 
preferable to health. For the sick man perpetually feels his 
own body, which the healthy man does not. Pascal, and 
our own Kierkegaard, contented themselves with defining 
sickness as the Christian's natural condition. Novalis goes 
much further. To him the highest, the only true life, is the 
life of the sick man. " Leben ist eine Krankheit des Geistes " ; > 
("Life is a disease of the spirit "). Why ? Because only in 
living individuals does the world-spirit feel itself, attain to 
self-consciousness. And no less highly than disease does 
Novalis prize voluptuousness, sensual rapture. Why? 
Because it is simply an excited, and therefore in his 
eyes diseased, self-consciousness, a wavering struggle be- 
tween pleasure and pain. "Could man," he says, "but 
begin to love sickness and suffering, he would perhaps in 
their arms experience the most delicious rapture, and feel 
the thrill of the highest positive pleasure. • • . Does not all 
that is best begin as illness ? Half-illness is an evil ; real 
illness is a pleasure, and one of the highest." And he 
writes elsewhere of a mystic power, " which seems to be the 
power of pleasure and pain, the enrapturing effect of which 
we observe so distinctly in the sensations of voluptuousness." 

To Novalis's voluptuous feeling of sickness corresponds 
the pietist's conviction of sin, that spiritual sickness which is 
at the same time a voluptuous pleasure. Novalis himself is 
perfectly aware of this correspondence. He says: "The 
Christian religion is the most voluptuous of religions. Sin 
is the greatest stimulant to love of the Divine Being ; the 
more sinful a man feels himself to be, the more Christian he 
is. Direct union with the Deity is the aim of sin and of 
love." And again : " It is curious that the evident associa- 
tion between sensuality, religion, and cruelty did not long 
ago draw men's attention to their close kinship and com- 
mon tendencies." 

And just as Novalis now prefers sickness to health, so he 
prefers night to day, with its " impudent light." 

Aversion for day and daylight was general among the 



190 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Romanticists. I drew attention to it in William Lovell. 
Novalis simply gives expression to a heightened degree of 
the general feeling in his famous Hymns to Night. That he 
should love the night is easy to understand. By hiding the 
surrounding world from it, night drives the Ego in upon itself ; 
hence the feeling of night, and self-consciousness, are one and 
the same thing. The rapture of the feeling of night lies in 
its terror ; first comes the fear of the individual, when 
everything round him disappears in the darkness, that he 
will himself disappear from himself ; then comes the pleasant 
shudder when, out of this fear, self-consciousness emerges 
stronger than before. 

In one of his fragments Novalis calls death a bridal 
night, a sweet mystery, and adds : — 

" 1st es nicht klug, fur die Nacht ein geselliges Lager zu suchen? 
Darum ist kliiglich gesinnt, wer audi Entschlummerte liebt." l 

So completely is this idea incorporated in the Romantic 
philosophy of life, that in Werner's drama, Die KreuzesbrOder, 
the hero, immediately before he is led to the stake, says : — 

" Den Neid verzeih' ich, 
Die Trauer nicht — O unaussprechlich schwelg* ich 
In der VerwandJung Wonn', in dem Geflihl 
Des schSnen Opfertodes ! — O mein Bruder 1 
Nicht wahr ? es kommt die Zeit, wo alle Menschen 
Den Tod erkennen — freudig ihn umarmen, 
Und fiihlen werden, dass dies Leben nur 
Der Liebe Ahnung ist, der Tod ihr Brautkuss, 
Und sie, die mit der Inbrunst eines Gatten, 
Im Brautgemach, uns vom Gewand entkleidet — 
Verwesung, Gluterguss der Liebe ist ! " * 

Life and death are to Novalis only "relative ideas." 
The dead are half alive, the living half dead. It is this 

1 "We deem that man wise who seeks a companion for his nightly couch ; then he 
also is wise who has a beloved among the dead." 

9 M I forgive envy ; pity I cannot forgive. It is beyond my power to tell how I 
revel in the thought of my approaching transfiguration, my sacrificial death. O 
brother ! the time is surely drawing nigh when all men, truly understanding death, 
will welcome him with glad embrace, will feel that life is but the anticipation of love, 
that death is the bridal kiss, and dissolution, which with a bridegroom's ardour 
disrobes us in the bridal chamber, the hottest fire of love." 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 191 

thought which in his case first gives zest to existence. In 
the first of his Hymns to Night he writes : " I turn to thee, 
holy, ineffable, mysterious Night ! Far off lies the world, as if 
it had sunk into a deep grave ; deserted and lonely is its place. 
My heart-strings vibrate with sorrow. . . . Dost thou find 
pleasure in us as we in thee, dark Night ? . . . Costly balsam 
drips from thy hand, from thy poppy-sheaf. Thou unf oldest 
the heavy wings of the soul. . . . How poor, how childish 
seems the day, how joyful and blessed its departing ! . . . 
More heavenly than those sparkling stars are the myriad 
eyes which Night opens in us. They see farther than 
the palest of those countless hosts ; without the aid of 
light, they see into the depths of a loving soul, and its high 
places are filled with unspeakable rapture. Praised be the 
Queen of the earth, the august revealer of holy worlds, the 
guardian of blessed love ! She sends me thee, my beloved, 
sweet sun of the night. Now I wake, for I am thine and 
mine. Thou hast proclaimed to me the life-giving gospel of 
Night, hast made of me a human being. Consume my body 
with the glowing flame of the spirit, that I may mingle yet 
more ethereally, yet more closely with thee, and the bridal- 
night be eternal." 

One feels the feverish desire of the consumptive in this 
outburst. The parallel passage in Lucinde is : " O infinite 
longing! But a time is coming when the fruitless desire 
and vain delusions of the day will die away and disappear, 
and the great night of love bring eternal peace." The 
thoughts of these two Romantic lovers of the night meet 
in this idea of an eternal embrace. 

In this enthusiasm for night lies the germ of religious 
mysticism. In the case of Just in us Kerner (which recalls 
that of Jung Stilling), bias towards the mysterious becomes 
belief in apparitions and fear of spirits. In certain of the 
writings of the later Romanticists, for instance in Achim 
von Arnim's Die schCne Isabella von AZgypten, half the char- 
acters are spirits. Mysticism is a fundamental element in 
the art of Clemens Brentano, even when he is at his best, 
and it gives charm and colour to his descriptions. 

Novalis himself describes mysticism as voluptuousness 



i 9 2 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

— " ein wollustiges Wesen." To understand this expression 
aright, we must study his hymns : — 

" Hinubcr wall' ich 
Und jede Pein 
Wird ehist ein Stachel 
Der Wollust sein. 
Noch wenig Zeiten 
So bin ich los, 
Und liege trunken 
Der Lieb' im Schoss." l 

Still plainer expression is given to the ecstatic passion 
of the sensual Ego in a sacramental hymn (No. vii. of 
the Spiritual Songs) : u Few know the secret of love, feel 
for ever unsatisfied, for ever athirst. The divine significance 
of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is an enigma to the 
carnal mind. But he who even once has drunk in the 
breath of life from warm, beloved lips, whose heart has 
melted in the quivering flames of holy fire, whose 
eyes have been opened to fathom the unfathomable depths 
of heaven — he will eat of His body and drink of His 
blood for ever more. Who has yet discerned the trans- 
cendent meaning of the earthly body ? Who can say that 
he understands the blood? The day is coming when all 
body will be one body; then the beatified pair will float 
in heavenly blood. Oh ! that the ocean were already 
reddening, that the rocks were softening into fragrant 
flesh ! The sweet repast never ends, love is never satisfied. 
Never can it have the beloved near enough, close enough 
to its inmost self. By lips that are ever more tenderly 
amorous, the heavenly nutriment is ever more eagerly 
seized and transformed. Hotter and hotter burns the 
passion of the soul, thirstier, ever thirstier grows the 
heart ; and so the feast of love endures from everlasting 
to everlasting. Had those who abstain but once tasted 
of it, they would forsake everything and seat themselves 
beside us at the table of longing, which is ever furnished 
with guests. They would comprehend the infinite ful- 

» " Thither I go, and there every pain will be a thrill of rapture. Ere long I 
shall be free, be lying, intoxicated with ecstasy, in the bosom of love." 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 193 

ness of love, and extol our feast of the Body and the 
Blood." 1 

These lines give us an excellent idea of the nature and 
main characteristics of mysticism. Mysticism retains all 
the old religious forms, but it truly feels their significance ; 
it speaks the same language as orthodoxy, but it changes 
a dead language into a living one. Herein lay the secret of 
its victory in the Middle Ages over that dry, formal scholas- 
ticism which it consumed in its glow. This made it the 
precursor of the Reformation. The mystic needs no ex- 



1 " Wenige wissen 

Das Geheimnis dcr Liebe, 

Fiihlen Unersattlichkeit 

Und ewigen Durst 

Des Abendmahls 

Gottliche Bedeutung 

1st den irdischen Sinnen Ratsel ; 

Aber wer jeraals 

Von heissen, gcliebten Lippcn 

Atem des Lebens sog, 

Wem heilige Glut 

In zitternden Wellen das Hen schmols 

Wem das Auge aufging, 

Dass er des Hiraraels 

Unergriindliche Tiefe mass, 

Wird essen von seinem Leibe 

Und trinken von seinem Blute 

Ewiglich. 

Wer hat des irdischen Leibes 

Hohen Sinn erraten ? 

Wer kann sagen 

Dass er das Blut versteht ? 

Einst ist Alles Leib — 

Ein Leib, 

In himmlischem Blute 

Schwimmt das selige Paar. 

O ! dass das Weltmeer 

Schon errotete, 

Und in duftiges Fleisch 

Aufquolle der Fels ! 

Nie endet das sUsse Mahl, 

Nie sattigt die Liebe sich ; 

Nicht innig, nicht eigen genug 

Kann sie haben den Geliebten. 

Von immer zarteren Lippen 

Verwandelt wird das Genossene 



194 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

ternal dogma ; in his pious rapture he is his own priest. 
But, as his spiritual life is altogether an inward life, he does 
not abolish external dogma, and in the end actually becomes 
a sacerdotalist. 

In mystically prophetic words Novalis foretells the coming 
of the new kingdom of sacred darkness : — 

" Es bricht die ncuc Welt herein 
Und verdunkelt den hellsten Sonnenscheiru 
Man sieht nun aus bemoosten Triimmern 
Eine wunderseltsame Zukunft schimmern, 
Und was vordem alltaglich war, 
Scheint jetzo fremd und wunderbar. 
Der Liebe Reich ist aufgethan, 
Die Fabel fangt zu spinnen an. 
Das Urspiel jeder Natur beginnt, 
Auf kraftige Worte jedes sinnt, 
Und so das grosse Weltgemiith 
Ueberall sich regt und unendlich bliiht 
• • • • • • 

Die Welt wird Traum, der Traum wird Welt, 
Und was man glaubt, es sei geschehn, 
Kann mann von weitem erst kommen sehn ; 
Frei soil die Phantasie erst schalten, 
Nach ihrem Gefallen die Faden verweben, 
Hier manches verschleiern, dort manches entfalten, 
Undendlich in magischem Dunst verschweben. 
Wehmuth und Wollust, TodundLeben 



Inniglicher und naher. 

Heissere Wollust 

Durchbebt die Seele, 

Duntiger and durstiger 

Wird das Hen : 

Und so withret der Liebe Gennss 

Von Ewigkeit zu EwigkeiL 

Hatten die Niichternen 

Einmal gekostet, 

Alles verliessen sie, 

Und setzten sich zu uns 

An den Tisch der Sehnsucht, 

Der nie leer wird. 

Sie erkannten der Liebe 

Unendliche Flille, 

Und priesen die Nahrung 

Von Leib und Blut" 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 195 

Sindhier in innigster Sympathies — 
Wer sich dcr hochsten Lieb* ergeben, 
Genest von ihrcn Wunden nie." 1 

Night, death, sensual rapture, heavenly bliss — these 
ideas are still more firmly interwoven in the verses above the 
churchyard gate, in Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The dead 
say: — 

" Susser Rciz der Mitternachte, 
Stiller Kreis gcheimer Machte, 
Wollust rathselhafter Spiele, 
Wir nur kennen euch. 

Leiser Wunsche susses Plaudern 
Horen wir allein, und schauen 
Immerdar in sel'ge Augen, 
Schmecken nichts als Mund und Kuss. 
Alles was wir nur beriihren, 
Wird zu heissen Balsamfruchten, 
Wird zu weichen zarten Briisten, 
Opfern kiihner Lust 

Immer wachst und bliiht Verlangen 
Am Geliebten festzuhangen, 
Ihn im Innern zu empfangen, 
Eins mit ihm zu sein. 
Seinem Durste nicht zu wehren, 
Sich im Wechsel zu verzehren, 
Von einander sich zu nahren, 
Von einander nur allein. 

So in Lieb' und hoher Wollust 
Sind wir immerdar versunken, 
Seit der wilde triibe Funken 
Jener Welt erlosch ; 

1 " The new world appears, and darkens the brightest sunshine. Among moss- - Xj v 
grown ruins one sees a marvellous future glistening ; and what used to be common , 

and everyday, now seems miraculous. The kingdom of love has come ; the fable 
has begun to weave itself. Every soul is born again ; words of power are heard { \ 
again ; the great world-soul moves, and puts forth bud and blossom without end. • . . 

" The world becomes a dream, our dream the world ; and what we believed to 
have happened long ago, we now see only coming, as yet far off. Imagination must 
have free play, must weave her web as seems best to her, here veiling, there dis- 
covering, at last dissolving all into magic vapour. Sadness and rapture, death and 
life, are here by inmost sympathy but one : he who has known the highest love 
never recovers from its wounds." 



196 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Seit der Hiigel sich geschlossen 
Und der Scheiterhaufen spriihte, 
Und dem schauernden Gemiithe 
Nun das Erdgesicht zerfloss." * 

This mysticism, which deems the dead happy because it 
supposes them to be revelling in all sensual delights, be- 
comes, in its practical application, a sort of quietism, that is, 
preference for a vegetating, plant-like life, the life extolled 
in Lucinde. 

u The plants," says Novalis, " are the plainest speech of 
the earth ; every new leaf, every remarkable flower is some 
mystery which is trying to reveal itself, and which remains 
motionless and dumb only because from very joy and love 
it can neither move nor speak. If one chances in solitude 
upon such a flower, does not everything around it seem 
transfigured? do not the little feathered songsters seem 
to seek its vicinity ? One could weep for gladness, and, 
forgetting the world, could bury one's hands and feet in 
the ground, take root, and never leave that happy neigh- 
bourhood." 

What an overdose of sentiment ! It provides its own 
cruel parody in the insane situation which reminds us Danes 
of one in Holberg's Ulysses von Ithacia. 

In another part of Ofterdingen we read : " Flowers exactly 
correspond to children . . . like children they are found 
lowest down, nearest the earth ; the clouds, again, are 
possibly revelations of the second, higher childhood, of 
Paradise regained ; therefore it is that they shed such re- 
freshing dews upon the children of earth." In the Romantic 
jargon there is even talk of the childlikeness of clouds. 

1 " Sweet joys of midnight, silent company of mysterious powers, strange revelries 
of passion, 'tis we alone who know yon. . . . 

" We alone hear the whispered prayers of sweet desire, and look for ever into 
blissful eyes, taste for ever mouth and kiss. All that we touch tarns into balsamic 
fruits, into soft and lovely breasts, ripe food for our desire. 

" Anew and ever anew awakes our longing to embrace, to be one with, the be- 
loved, to give him whate'er he asks, sweetly to consume each other, to feed on each 
other, and on nought else. 

" In this voluptuous passion we have revelled ever since the glaring light of earthly 
life was extinguished, since the faggot flamed, the grave closed on us, and the sights 
of earth were hidden from the shuddering soul." 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 197 

Na!vet6 aspires, and is not satisfied until it has reached 
the sky. O Polonius ! — These naive clouds are the true, the 
proper symbols of Romanticism. 

But even in the plants and the clouds there is still too 
much endeavour and unrest to satisfy the Romantic soul. 
Even vegetation is not perfect abstraction, perfect quiescence ; 
there is tendency upwards in the straining of the plant 
towards the light. Therefore even the plant life is not 
the highest. Novalis goes a step further than Friedrich 
Schlegel. 

"The highest life is mathematics. Without enthusiasm 
no mathematics. The life of the gods is mathematics. Pure 
mathematics is religion. It is arrived at only by revelation. 
The mathematician knows everything. All activity ceases 
when knowledge is attained. The state of knowledge is bliss 
(Eudamonie), rapturous peace of contemplation, heavenly 
abstraction." 

Now we have reached the climax. All life is crystallised 
into dead mathematical figures. 

At this point the life of the soul is condensed to such 
a degree that it comes to a standstill. It is as if the clock of 
the soul had ceased to strike. Every noble aspiration, every 
tendency towards independent action is forced back and 
stifled in the airless vaults of the soul. 

It is at this point, therefore, that intense spirituality turns 
into gross materialism. When all capacity of producing 
new outward forms is not only despised, but actually de- 
stroyed, we have reached the turning-point, the point at 
which all established outward forms are recognised and ac- 
cepted, and accepted the more gladly the more rigid they 
are, the closer they approach to crystallised petrifaction, the 
more certain it is that they only leave room for the life of 
vegetation. The step is taken by Novalis in a remarkable 
essay, Christendom in Europe^ which Tieck by his erasures 
vainly tried to nullify, and which Friedrich Schlegel, by 
leaving out one most important passage, converted into s» 
defence of Catholicism. 

In this essay he writes as follows : — u These were 
glorious days, when Europe was still a Christian c 



1 



l/ 



198 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the home of the one, undivided Christian religion. . . . 
The wise head of the Church rightly set himself against the 
bold cultivation of the human mind at the cost of religious 
faith, and against untimely and dangerous discoveries in the 
domain of science. Thus he forbade the scientists to 
maintain openly that this earth is an insignificant planet, 
for he knew well that men would lose, along with their 
respect for their earthly home, respect for their heavenly 
home and their fellow-men, that they would choose limited 
knowledge in preference to unlimited faith, and would 
acquire the habit of despising everything great and won- 
derful, as being simply the result of lifeless law." 

We could almost suppose ourselves to be listening to the 
sermonising of a parish-clerk of the eighteenth century. And 
yet we are sensible of the poet's consistency. Poetry, which 
led Schiller back to Greece, leads Novalis back to the In- 
quisition, and induces him, like Joseph de Maistre, to side 
with it against Galileo. 

Of Protestantism he says : li This great spiritual disrup- 
tion, which was accompanied by disastrous wars, was a 
notable proof of the harmfulness of knowledge, of culture 
— or at least of the temporary harmfulness of a certain 
degree of culture. • • • The schismatics separated the in- 
separable, divided the indivisible Church, and presumptuously 
dissociated themselves from, the great Christian communion, 
in which, and through which alone, true, lasting regeneration 
was possible. ... A religious peace was concluded, based 
upon principles which were as foolish as they were irreligious ; 
for the continued existence of so-called Protestantism was 
equivalent to the establishment of a self-contradiction, namely, 
permanent revolutionary government. . . . Luther treated 
Christianity arbitrarily, mistook its spirit, and introduced a new 
letter, a totally new doctrine, that of the sacred and supreme 
authority of the Bible. This, unfortunately, meant the interfer- 
ence in religious matters of a perfectly foreign, entirely earthly 
science, namely, philology, the destructive influence of which 
is thenceforward unmistakable. . . . The popularisation of 
the Bible was now insisted upon, and its contemptible matter 
and the crude abstract sketch of a religion provided by its 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 199 

books had a remarkable effect in frustrating the inspiring, re- 
vealing activity of the Holy Spirit. . . . The Reformation 
was the death-blow of Christianity. . . . Fortunately for the 
Church, there came into existence at this time a new religious 
order, on which the expiring spirit of the hierarchy seemed 
to have bestowed its last gifts. This order gave new life 
to the old forms, and with wonderful intuition and de- 
termination set about the restoration of the Papal power. 
Never before in the world's history had such a society been 
known. . . . The Jesuits were well aware how much Luther 
owed to his demagogic arts and his knowledge of the common 
people. . . . From of old, the scholar has been the instinctive 
enemy of the priest ; the learned and the ecclesiastical pro- 
fessions must carry on a war of extermination against each 
other so long as they are separated ; for they are struggling 
for the same position. . . V'To the outcome of modern 
thought men gave the name of philosophy ; and under 
philosophy they comprehended everything that was hostile 
to the old order of things, consequently every attack upon 
religion. What was at first personal hatred of the Roman 
Catholic Church became by degrees hatred of the Bible, of 
the Christian faith, indeed of all religion."^! 

We see how clearly Novalis understood that free- 
thought was a consequence of Protestantism. He con- 
tinues : — 

11 Nay, more ; the hatred of religion developed naturally 
and inevitably into a hatred of all enthusiasms, denounced 
imagination and feeling, morality and love of art, the past 
and the future, barely acknowledged man to be the highest 
among the animals, and reduced the creative music of the 
universe to the monotonous whirr of an enormous mill, 
driven by the stream of chance — a mill without a builder 
or miller, a true perpetuum mobile. . • • One enthusiasm was 
magnanimously left to mankind, enthusiasm for this glorious 
philosophy and its priests. France had the good fortune 
to be the seat of this new faith, which was patched together 
out of fragments of knowledge. ... On account of its 
obedience to the laws of mathematics and its audacity, light 
was the idol of these men. • . . The history of modern 



OY 



200 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

unbelief is very remarkable, and is the key to all the 
monstrous phenomena of these later days. It only begins 
in this century, is little noticeable till the middle of it, and 
then quickly develops with incalculable force in every 
direction ; a second, more comprehensive and more re- 
markable Reformation was inevitable, and of necessity came 
first in the country which was most modernised and had 
suffered longest from want of freedom. . . . During this 
anarchy religion was born again, true anarchy being its 
generating element. ... To the reflective observer the 
overthrower of the state is a Sisyphus. No sooner does he 
reach the summit, where there is equipoise, than the mighty 
burden rolls down on the other side. It will never remain 
up there unless it is kept in position by an attraction towards 
heaven. All your supports are too weak as long as your 
state has a tendency towards the earth." 

He enthusiastically predicts the coming age of "soul." 
11 In Germany we can already point to sure indications of a 
new world. . . . Here and there, and often in daring union, 
are to be found incomparable versatility, brilliant polish, 
extensive knowledge, and rich and powerful imagination. A 
strong feeling of the creative arbitrariness, the boundlessness, 
the infinite many-sidedness, the sacred originality, and the 
unlimited capacity of the human spirit is taking possession of 
men. . . . Although these are only indications, disconnected 
and crude, they nevertheless discover to the historic eye a 
universal individuality, new history, a new humanity, the 
sweet embrace of a loving God and a young, surprised 
Church, and the conception of a new Messiah in the hearts 
of all the many thousands of that Church's members. Who 
does not, with sweet shame, feel himself pregnant ? The 
child will be the express image of the father — a new golden 
age, with dark, fathomless eyes ; a prophetic, miracle-working, 
comforting age, which will kindle the flame of eternal life ; 
a great reconciler, a saviour who, like a spirit taking up his 
abode amongst men, will only be believed in, not seen, will 
appear to the faithful in innumerable forms, will be con- 
sumed as bread and wine, embraced as the beloved, inhaled 
as the air, heard as word and song, received as death with 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 201 

voluptuous ecstasy and love's keenest pain, into the inmost 
recesses of the dissolving body." 

After occupying ourselves so long with voluptuous rapture, 
bliss, religion, night, and death, do we not instinctively cry : 
" Air ! light ! " We seem to be suffocating. This " soul " in 
truth resembles the shaft of a mine. Novalis's love for the 
miner's life, in which smoky red lanterns replace the light of 
day, is not without significance. And what is the upshot of 
it all ? What new being is the result of the embraces of a 
loving God and a young, surprised Church ? What but a 
regenerated reaction, which in France restored Catholicism 
and (after Napoleon's fall) the Bourbons, and in Germany 
led to that hateful tyranny which gave pietism the same 
power there that Catholicism exercised in France, cast 
young men into prison, and drove the best writers of the 
day into exile. 

Novalis relegated everything to the inner life, the inner 
world. It engulfed everything, the forces of the Revolution 
and of the counter-revolution ; in it all the lions of the spirit 
lay bound ; in it the Titanic powers of history were shut up 
and hypnotised. Night surrounded them ; they felt the 
voluptuous joys of darkness and death ; the life they lived was 
the life of a plant, and in the end they turned into stone. 
In the inner world lay all the wealth of the spirit, but it was 
dead treasure, inert masses, ingeniously crystallized according 
to mathematical laws. It was like the gold and silver in the 
inward parts of the earth, and the poet was the miner who 
was spirited down into the depths and rejoiced in all that 
he saw. 

But while he stayed down below, things in the upper 
world pursued their usual course. The outer world was not 
in the least disturbed because the poet and the philosopher 
were employed in taking it to pieces in the inner world. 
For they did not go to work in the rough, material fashion 
of a Mirabeau or a Bonaparte ; they only disintegrated it 
inwardly in an inner world. When the poet, released b* 
the spirits, came up from the mine again, he found t 1 
world, which he supposed he had resolved into its 
exactly as it had been before. All that he had me 






202 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

heart stood there, hard and cold ; and, since the outer world 
had never really interested him, and since it seemed to him 
almost as night-like, murky, and drowsy as his inner world, 
he gave it his blessing and let it stand. 

The prophetic quality in Novalis, his peculiar type of 
personal beauty, his genuine lyric talent, and his early death, 
have led critics to compare him with Shelley, who was born 
twenty years after him. Quite lately, in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes, Blaze de Bury drew attention to the resemblance. 
He writes : " Shelley's poetry has a strong resemblance to 
Novalis's, and the likeness between these two singular poets 
is not only a physical one ; common to them both are close 
observation of nature, divination of all her little secrets, a 
choice combination of sentiment with philosophical thought, 
an utter want of tangibility, reflections, but no body, a 
mounting upwards, an aspiration, that leads nowhere." 

These resemblances, however, do not affect the great 
fundamental unlikeness, the diametrically opposed spiritual 
standpoints of these two poets of such an apparently similar 
cast of mind, one of whom lives before, the other after the 
great spiritual revulsion of the beginning of this century. 

Think of Shelley's life in its main outlines. The son of 
a good family, he was sent to an aristocratic school, where, 
while yet a child, he was roused to wrath and opposition by 
the brutality of the boys and the cruelty of the masters. 
What especially kindled his indignation as he grew older was 
the hypocrisy with which those who gave free rein to their 
bad passions perpetually talked of God and Christianity. 
During his second year at Oxford, Shelley wrote an essay 
On the Necessity ef Atheism, of which, with naive straight- 
forwardness, he sent copies to the Church and University 
authorities. He was summoned before them, and, on re- 
fusing to retract what he had written, was expelled for 
atheism. He went home, but his father received him 
with such contemptuous coldness that he soon left again, 
never to return. His whole life was a tissue of similar 
rebellions and similar misfortunes. In his twentieth year 
he was threatened with consumption, and though he re- 
covered, he was thenceforward a delicate, nervously irri- 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 203 

table man. The Court of Chancery refused him the 
guardianship of his own children (after the death of his 
first wife) on the ground that he had propagated immoral 
and irreligious doctrines in Queen Mad. After this he left 
England for ever, and lived in Italy in voluntary exile until 
sudden death put an end to his sad and homeless existence. 
His boat was capsized in a squall in the Gulf of Spezzia, 
and he was drowned, at the age of twenty-nine. 

In contrast with such a life as this, Hardenberg's is a 
true German country-town idyll. At the age of twenty-five 
he received a Government appointment, an auditorship at 
one of the state saltworks, and a year or two later he was 
advanced to be " assessor " at the saltworks of Weissenfels. 
His Romanticism in no way interfered with his fulfilment of 
his duties as a good citizen. In his capacity of Govern- 
ment official he was zealous, conscientious, and steady — 
one of the men who do their duty and are guilty of no 
extravagances, and whose position is consequently assured. 
His republicanism was short-lived, and he is only saved 
by his naivete from the charge of servility. He calls 
Frederick William and Louisa of Prussia "ein klassisches 
Menschenpaar ; " in the revelation of these "geniuses" he 
sees an omen of a better world. Frederick William is, he 
says, the first king of Prussia ; he crowns himself every day. 
A real " transubstantiation " has taken place ; for the court 
has been transformed into a family, the throne into a sanc- 
tuary, a royal marriage into an eternal union of hearts. 
Only youthful prejudice, he maintains, inclines to a republic ; 
the married man desires order, safety, quietness, a well- 
regulated household, a "real monarchy." "A constitution 
has for us only the interest of a dead letter. How different 
is the law which is the expression of the will of a beloved 
and revered person ! We have no right to conceive of the 
monarch as the first officer of the state ; he is not a citizen, 
and cannot therefore be an official. The king is a human 
being exalted to the position of an earthly providence." 

If we compare such utterances as the above with those 
of Shelley's poems which were inspired by the tyranny pre- 
vailing in his native country, or those in which he glorifies 
vol. 11. O 



204 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the Italian revolutions and the Greek war of liberation, we 
have the sharpest imaginable contrast. And the same con- 
trast meets us wherever we turn. Novalis sings the praises 
of sickness. Shelley says : " It is certain that wisdom is not 
compatible with disease, and that, in the present state of the 
climates of this earth, health, in the true and comprehensive 
sense of the word, is out of the reach of civilized man." 

Novalis says : " We picture God to ourselves as a person, 
just as we think of ourselves as persons. God is exactly as 
personal and individual as we are." Shelley says : " There 
is no God ! This negation must be understood solely to 
affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of a pervading 
Spirit, co-eternal with the universe, remains unshaken. . . . 
It is impossible to believe that the Spirit which pervades 
this infinite machine begat a son upon the body of a Jewish 
woman, or is angered by the consequences of that necessity 
which is a synonym of itself. All that miserable tale of 
the Devil, and Eve, and an Intercessor, with the childish 
mummeries of the God of the Jews, is irreconcilable with 
the knowledge of the stars. The works of his fihgers have 
borne witness against him." 

Novalis sings the praises of the priesthood and of the 
Jesuits. Shelley says : " During many ages of darkness and 
misery this story " (the doctrine of the Bible) " gained im- 
plicit belief ; but at length men arose who suspected it was 
a fable and imposture, and that Jesus Christ, so far from 
being a God, was only a man like themselves. But a 
numerous set of men who derived, and still derive, immense 
emoluments from this opinion, told the vulgar that if they 
did not believe in the Bible they would be damned to all 
eternity; and burned, imprisoned, and poisoned all the 
unbiassed and unconnected inquirers who occasionally arose. 
They still oppress them, so far as the people, now become 
more enlightened, will allow. . . . The same means that 
have supported every popular belief have supported Chris- 
tianity. War, imprisonment, assassination, and falsehood, 
deeds of unexampled and incomparable atrocity, have made 
it what it is. The blood shed by the votaries of the God of 
mercy and peace, since the establishment of his religion, 



ROMANTIC SOUL. NOVALIS 205 

would probably suffice to drown all other sectaries now on 
the habitable globe." 

From these extracts, to which innumerable others of the 
same tendency might be added, we see how great was the 
distance between Novalis, with his introspective soul-life, 
and Shelley, with his practical enthusiasm for liberty. 

These, then, are the two poets whom men have attempted 
to represent as twin spirits. They both rank high as lyric 
poets, though Shelley is a poetical genius of a far higher 
type than Novalis. But even if Novalis were more on a 
level with Shelley as a poet, how small is the measure of 
truth to be found in his works compared with that in 
Shelley's I 

To Novalis, truth was poetry and dream ; to Shelley, it 
was liberty. To Novalis it was a firmly established and 
powerful Church; to Shelley a struggling, sorely-pressed 
heresy ; Novalis's truth sat on royal and papal thrones ; 
Shelley's was despised and powerless. 

To make any real impression on humanity, a truth, 
however great, must be made man, must become flesh and 
blood. In the early biographies of Defoe, the author of 
Robinson Crusoe, we are told that in July 1703 he was con- 
demned, as author of a certain pamphlet, first to have his 
ears cut off and then to be pilloried. The day came, the 
sentence was carried out, the man with the pale, mutilated 
face, dripping with blood, stood in the pillory, facing the 
assembled multitude. Then, strange to say, in place of the 
usual loud hooting, with its accompaniment of showers of 
rotten apples, eggs, potatoes, &c, there fell a dead silence ; 
not an apple was thrown, not one abusive word was heard — 
Defoe was far too dear to the hearts of the people. Presently 
one of the crowd, hoisted on his neighbours' shoulders, 
placed a wreath upon the mutilated head. I read this when 
I was a boy, and though I know now that Defoe did not 
lose his ears, so that Pope was mistaken when he wrote — 

" Earless on high stood unabashed Defoe ;* 

and though I also know that Defoe was not the pure char- 
acter I took him to be at that time, still the picture remains 



S 



206 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a grand one, and it has burned itself into my soul. For 
it contains an eternal verity. As a general rule, truth 
upon this earth presents much such an appearance as did 
the condemned author in the pillory. And I remember 
thinking to myself at the time : " If a man chanced to find 
such a poor, despised, oppressed truth in the pillory, what a 
great moment in his life it would be if he might draw near 
and place the wreath upon its brow 1 " Shelley did this — 
Novalis did not. 



XIII 
LONGING— « THE BLUE FLOWER" 

I have described Romantic "soul" as intensity, without 
endeavour or desire, as the glowing furnace in which liberty 
was asphyxiated and every tendency to outward action 
destroyed. But this is not the exact truth. One outward 
tendency remained, that which is known by the name of 
"longing" (Sehnsucht). ^ongg^stheR^^^^^^^jxa^. 
l ent of endeavour r and the momer ol all" Romantic -poetr y^ 
What is longing? It is a combination of lack and jlepbe, y 
without the d eterminatio n or the means to attain what 
one lacks and desires^ AricTwhat is tfie~7Jfe}eet of this 
longing? What but that which is the object of all long- 
ing and desire, in however fine or hypocritical words 
it may clothe itself — enjoyment and happiness. The 
Romanticist does not employ the word happiness, but it 
is what he means. He does not say happiness, he says 
"theideal." But do not let us be deceived by words. The 
special characteristic of the Romanticist, however, is not 
his search after happiness, but his belief that it exists, 
that it must be in store for him, and that it will come 
to him when he least expects it. And since it is the gift 
of Heaven, since he himself is not its creator, he may 
lead as aimless a life as he will, guided only by his vague 
longing. All that is necessary is to preserve his faith that 
this longing will be satisfied. And it is a faith easy to 
preserve, for everything around him is full of omens and 
prophecies of the accomplishment of his desire. 

It was Novalis who gave to the object of Romanti 
longing the f amou s, mystic name of " the blue flower, 
The expression Is, of course, not to be understood literall 
The " blue flower " is a mysterious symbol, something of th 



I / .«.. i 4 
208 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

u 
nature of IX0Y2, the Fish of the early Christians. It is 
an abbreviation, a condensed formulation of all that in- 
finitude of bliss for which a languishing human heart is 
capable of longing. Hence glimpses of it are caught long 
before it is reached ; it is dreamed of long before it is 
seen ; it is divined now here, now there, in what proves 
to be a delusion, is seen for a moment amongst other 
flowers, only to vanish immediately ; but its fragrance is 
perceptible, at times only faint, at times strong, and the 
seeker is intoxicated by it. Though, like the butterfly, he 
flutters from flower to flower, settling now upon a violet, 
now upon some tropical plant, he is always seeking and 

y \ >v^ longing for the one thing — perfect, ideal happiness. 

1 It is with this longing and its object that Novalis's 

principal work deals. It is a work which we must study, 
and, to understand it aright, we must first see how it 
came into existence. 

Its germ is contained in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and 

> r we can clearly trace the mental processes by which Wilhelm 

Meister is slowly transmuted into Heinrich von Ofterdingtn. 
Wilhelm does not act, he is acted upon. He does not 
strive, he longs. He pursues ideals, seeking them first on 
the stage, then in real life. Wilhelm too, is the offspring of 
11 soul." The book is pervaded by soul. It is not only that 
the characters, like those of many modern English novels 
(some of Dickens's, for instance), are full of soul, but there 
is, as it were, soul in the peculiar, hazy atmosphere which 
surrounds them. No feature is realistically coarse or de- 
cided ; the children of soul have soft contours. Heiberg 
once summed up Goethe's philosophy, of which he himself 
was a disciple, in the following sentence : u Goethe is neither 
immoral nor irreligious, in the general acceptation of the 
word, but he shows that there are no unconditional laws 
of duty, and that we must place our religion on the same 
level as our poetry and philosophy." We are struck 
in reading Wilhelm Meister by the manner in which rigid 
school or text-book ethics, the narrow-minded, conven- 
tional ideas of morality and equity, are so re-moulded that 
morality is no longer regarded as the absolute law of life, 



LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" 209 

but simply as an important principle of life, one among 
others all equally legitimate and equally under control — just 
as the brain of the animal, important as it is, is not, in the 
estimation of the physiologist, the one part of consequence, 
but simply an organ, fulfilling its task in association with 
the heart, the liver, and the other organs. Hence sensuality 
is not abused as animal, but (in Philine) simply and 
straightforwardly represented as pleasant and attractive. 
The harmonious development of Wilhelm's nature is arrived 
at by the aid of many doubtful experiences. In the female 
characters we are called on to admire well-bred self-pos- 
session and the innate nobility of a beautiful nature ; the 
physical and mental superiority and freedom which are the 
result of a highly favoured and assured position, are sym- 
pathetically portrayed in the personages of rank. It may 
seem objectionable to us nowadays that "noble" and 
" aristocratic " are evidently often regarded as synonyms, but 
the reason for it is to be sought in the deplorable, straitened 
social conditions of the Germany of Goethe's day. As the 
tale is not the offspring of the union of imagination and 
reality, but of imagination and "soul," there is something 
unreal in its whole character ; much is veiled, much refined 
away ; everything is so idealised that the material world 
stands, as it were, in the shadow of the spiritual. 

Only private circumstances and persons are dealt 
with. War is, indeed, alluded to, and in such a manner 
that we are enabled to conclude that the war following on 
the French Revolution is meant ; but nothing definite is 
said about it. As to the locality, we are led to the con- 
clusion that it is somewhere in Central Germany ; but the 
landscape possesses no marked features, it only chimes in 
like a faint musical accompaniment to the mood. In the 
world depicted in the tale, art is regarded, in the perverted 
fashion of the day, as the school of life, instead of life as 
the school of art ; national, historical events are but il etwas 
Theatergerausch hinter den Koulissen " (a little noise behind 
the scenes). 1 None of the characters have any practical aim 
in view ; they are simply driven onward by the current 

1 Auerbach : Deutsche Abende. 



v :. 



208 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

u 
nature of IX0Y2, the Fish of the early Christians. It is 
an abbreviation, a condensed formulation of all that in- 
finitude of bliss for which a languishing human heart is 
capable of longing. Hence glimpses of it are caught long 
before it is reached ; it is dreamed of long before it is 
seen ; it is divined now here, now there, in what proves 
to be a delusion, is seen for a moment amongst other 
flowers, only to vanish immediately ; but its fragrance is 
perceptible, at times only faint, at times strong, and the 
seeker is intoxicated by it. Though, like the butterfly, he 
flutters from flower to flower, settling now upon a violet, 
now upon some tropical plant, he is always seeking and 
y \ -V^*-' longing for the one thing — perfect, ideal happiness. 

[ It is with this longing and its object that Novalis's 

principal work deals. It is a work which we must study, 
and, to understand it aright, we must first see how it 
came into existence. 

Its germ is contained in Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and 
r we can clearly trace the mental processes by which Wilhelm 

Meister is slowly transmuted into Heinrich von Ofterdingtn. 
Wilhelm does not act, he is acted upon. He does not 
strive, he longs. He pursues ideals, seeking them first on 
the stage, then in real life. Wilhelm too, is the offspring of 
11 soul." The book is pervaded by soul. It is not only that 
the characters, like those of many modern English novels 
(some of Dickens's, for instance), are full of soul, but there 
is, as it were, soul in the peculiar, hazy atmosphere which 
surrounds them. No feature is realistically coarse or de- 
cided ; the children of soul have soft contours. Heiberg 
once summed up Goethe's philosophy, of which he himself 
was a disciple, in the following sentence : " Goethe is neither 
immoral nor irreligious, in the general acceptation of the 
word, but he shows that there are no unconditional laws 
of duty, and that we must place our religion on the same 
level as our poetry and philosophy." We are struck 
in reading Wilhelm Meister by the manner in which rigid 
school or text-book ethics, the narrow-minded, conven- 
tional ideas of morality and equity, are so re-moulded that 
morality is no longer regarded as the absolute law of life, 



LONGING— -THE BUTE TL*J*T: 



HI»L 



but simply as an important procrLe z£ is. ant mm^z 
others all equally legitimate a^i eqi^ly im-yr runrr^ — -as: 
as the brain of the animal, intronizr ai^s n^ il oc 
estimation of the physiokgist. ±e cot par: n: nEErt^nr t^r r'v 
but simply an organ, fn,f.~' : r*g is t*=x ir 2&: ra:t:n : ^v-rx 
the heart, the liver, and the cxbo- ar&z&- Bi^ot vt^-tc/t j 
is not abused as animal, bd tb Pti"t^ huh; :y aic 
straightforwardly represented as rt>^arr ioif H^racrr-^ 
The harmonious development cs~ W^'-rim * Tar ir t s a— tv^l 
at by the aid of many dosrcful nriengrirsg:- Ix ±ut vn;/ 
characters we are called on so a r i,;re -wzl-zxrez vzfr-yj*- 
session and the innate noixlity dL a beanniriL lanu'-t lie 
physical and mental superiority aod fr^rrm -wau^r ac* ±jz 
result of a highly favoured asd assured roarum- ir* f~il- 
pathetically portrayed in the pznrjrzg** it zicjl- i nas^ 
seem objectionable to is tacnraciji "fc*** ^ n^c ^ ' sr^t. 
"aristocratic" are evidently cct^n r*£2r2e£ i£ rnxyni :-ir 
the reason for it is to be soc^t 2a ^ie ittrJijr^sz. sztttzir^t 
social conditions of the Gernar^ :x G'^stitt * tar* - i>^ tut 
tale is not the offspring c* tae tzh-jz. *£ it&szlsx^-ji. ^in 
reality, but of imaginatx>3 aed -ioiu* iinr* it *ju*?*\ir.2 
unreal in its whole charade ; :z:Ti:i s -v~i*rr~ un r-si^n 
away ; everything is so ia&l&zi tiar -fie nar^r^ ^v^s 
stands, as it were, in the §had?v ^t i**: icrr r.iaL 

Only private circs2n^t*cc£§ ami psrvjss. «r» o*^r 
with. War is, indeed, al^^rf v.. asui n, *irjt a. Tiarn.-r 
that we are enabled to cocdji ^^zt -S^ -»r<r i^Ir.nr-.-r^ vl 
the French Revolution is g^ry* - -j-r- nvtmti^ trdr:;:^ * 
said about it. As to the xcalrr. -*^ ar* *»n v. i:>t v^i- 
elusion that it is somemiere ix Gam* >^riiar-* 1 ^ t:*t 
landscape possesses no mzrirf Stacir^, r v:. * ^:nw?~ n 
like a faint musical acoocic^t^iit^r v. -^ xu-yvi ^x !:/* 
world depicted in the tait, an 2$ r^sr-^r^ iv *:** >r^^ 
fashion of the day, as tbe tcbvi je I: ^ *.«.,-«*£ j lu^ *» 
the school of art ; nativrjal, ijyv-jrisk ws-x ** ~.rx * *z +<^ 
Theatergerausch hinter dts Kv^-*bx * * irtte ii ^ v^.-.-^ 
the scenes). 1 None of the ctkr^ssri i^~-»: <r* ^*v.--v* ^m 
in view; they are simplj drrva w^irc v* *V.#* vu"^x 



1 



A j wrri a rt ; LmaGxx* jfcsmte. 



212 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

hear the church bells ring and to know that the world is at 
leisure. The following words of the hero contain the philo- 
sophy of the book : " In this world we can only desire, we can 
only live in intentions ; real action belongs to the hereafter." 
Consequently there is no action in the story ; the characters 
wander about with as little apparent purpose as comets; 
their lives consist of a series of accidental, unsought adven- 
tures ; they are always travelling in search of the ideal, and 
as the ideal is generally supposed to have taken up its abode 
somewhere in the neighbourhood of Rome, the book ends 
there — the story is not brought to a conclusion, and is 
never continued. 

It is precisely because of its dreaminess and disconnected- 
ness that Novalis prefers Sternbald to Wilhtlm Meister. " For," 
says he, " the kernel of my philosophy is the belief that the 
poetical is the absolutely real, and that the more poetical 
anything is, the truer it is. Therefore, the task of the poet 
is not to idealise, but to cast a spell. The poetry of the 
fairy tale is the true poetry. A fairy tale is a disconnected 
dream-picture, and its strength lies in its being exactly the 
reverse of the true world, and yet exactly like it." The world 
of the future, according to Novalis, is rational chaos — chaos 
which prevails. The genuine fairy tale must therefore, he 
maintains, be not a mere tale, but also prophetic representa- 
tion, ideal, inevitable. The real fairy tale writer is the modern 
seer. The romance, the novel, is, as it were, free history, 
the mythology of history. And love, being the form of 
morality which implies the possibility of magic, is the soul 
of the novel, the foundation of all romances, all novels. For 
where true love is, there marvellous, miraculous things 
happen. 

These obscure, yet in a manner unambiguous expres- 
sions of Novalis's opinions on the subject of the true nature 
of poetry and romance, make it easy for us to understand 
his judgment of WUhelm Meister, a book he had greatly 
admired in early youth. For in WUhelm Meister, as in 7br- 
quato Tasso, poetry has to give way to reality, the poetic 
conception of life to the practical. Novalis could imagine 
nothing more shameful than this ; it was sin against the holy 



LONGING— " THE BLUE FLOWER" 211 

Many have embraced the cloud instead of Juno ; Wilhelm 
lets the cloud go, and presses Juno to his heart. 

Wilhelm Meister had almost as much share as Die Herzens- 
ergiessungen eines Klosterbruders in the production of Tieck's y 

Sternbald, which is throughout an echo of Goethe's great 
work. Immediately after the appearance of Wilhelm Meister, 
Tieck sketched the plot of a very interesting story, Derjunge 
Tischkrmeister ("The Young Carpenter"), which was not 
published until forty-one years later. The hero, an almost 
too accomplished and artistic young carpenter, goes through 
a process of development which exactly resembles Wilhelm 
Meister' s, as far as the influence of aristocratic acquaintances, 
of dramatic art, and the theatre is concerned. A true 
Romanticist, he produces Shakespeare's comedies in a private 
theatre which is an exact imitation of the theatres of Shake- 
speare's day, and is the lover both on the stage and behind 
the scenes. 

This work was set aside in favour of Sternbald. The 
modern tradesman had to give way to the artist of the 
Romantic period of Albert Durer. Sternbald is the 
apotheosis of " soul," of pure soul, without admixture of 
reason and lucidity. Hence the sum and substance of the 
book is desire, pining desire ; hence we are told of such an 
event as the Reformation, that, instead of generating a divine 
fulness of religion, it only generated the emptiness of reason, 
in which all hearts languish ; hence the mild sensuality 
of Goethe's romance becomes brutal desire of the William 
Lovell type. The hero, when he looks within himself, sees, 
like Lovell, "a fathomless whirlpool, a rushing, deafening 
enigma." In the second edition Tieck thought it advisable 
to cut out some of the too numerous wanton bathing and 
drinking scenes amidst which the restless longing of the hero 
runs riot. 

But the principal thing to which I would draw attention 
is, that reality is here refined and distilled in a manner 
unknown to Goethe. It is attenuated into vapour — emotional 
vapour ; personality is drowned in landscape, action in the 
music of the woodman's horn. In Sternbald every day is a 
Sunday ; a devotional feeling pervades the air ; we seem to 



212 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

hear the church bells ring and to know that the world is at 
leisure. The following words of the hero contain the philo- 
sophy of the book : " In this world we can only desire, we can 
only live in intentions ; real action belongs to the hereafter." 
Consequently there is no action in the story ; the characters 
wander about with as little apparent purpose as comets ; 
their lives consist of a series of accidental, unsought adven- 
tures ; they are always travelling in search of the ideal, and 
as the ideal is generally supposed to have taken up its abode 
somewhere in the neighbourhood of Rome, the book ends 
there — the story is not brought to a conclusion, and is 
never continued. 

It is precisely because of its dreaminess and disconnected- 
ness that Novalis prefers Sternbald to Wilhtlm Meister. " For," 
says he, il the kernel of my philosophy is the belief that the 
poetical is the absolutely real, and that the more poetical 
anything is, the truer it is. Therefore, the task of the poet 
is not to idealise, but to cast a spell. The poetry of the 
fairy tale is the true poetry. A fairy tale is a disconnected 
dream-picture, and its strength lies in its being exactly the 
reverse of the true world, and yet exactly like it." The world 
of the future, according to Novalis, is rational chaos — chaos 
which prevails. The genuine fairy tale must therefore, he 
maintains, be not a mere tale, but also prophetic representa- 
tion, ideal, inevitable. The real fairy tale writer is the modern 
seer. The romance, the novel, is, as it were, free history, 
the mythology of history. And love, being the form of 
morality which implies the possibility of magic, is the soul 
of the novel, the foundation of all romances, all novels. For 
where true love is, there marvellous, miraculous things 
happen. 

These obscure, yet in a manner unambiguous expres- 
sions of Novalis's opinions on the subject of the true nature 
of poetry and romance, make it easy for us to understand 
his judgment of Wilhelm Meister, a book he had greatly 
admired in early youth. For in Wilhelm Meister, as in 7br- 
quato Tasso, poetry has to give way to reality, the poetic 
conception of life to the practical. Novalis could imagine 
nothing more shameful than this ; it was sin against the holy 



LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" 213 

spirit of poetry. In the novel, in fiction, poetry is not to be 
done away with, not even to be restricted, but to be exalted 
and glorified. 

So he determines to write a novel which shall be the 
direct antithesis of Wilhelm Meister. He even takes thought s 

of such small matters as type and size, and determines that 
in them Heinrich von Ofterdingen shall be the exact counter- 
part of the book, the worldly philosophy of which it is to 
refute by its magic mysticism. He writes to Tieck : " My 
novel is in full swing ; it is to be a deification of poetry. In 
the first part Heinrich von Ofterdingen ripens into a poet ; 
in the second he is the glorified poet. The story will have 
many points of resemblance with your SternbcUd, but will 
lack its lightness. This want, however, may not be a dis- 
advantage, considering the subject." 

Goethe and Wilhelm MeisterN ovzlis criticises thus : "Goethe v' 

is an altogether practical poet. His works are what English 
wares are — simple, neat, suitable to their purpose, and dur- 
able. ... He has, like the Englishman, a natural sense of 
order and economy, and an acquired sense of what is fine 
and noble. . . . Wilhelm Meister* } s Lehrjahre is, in a way, alto- 
gether modern and prosaic. Romance perishes in it, and so 
does the poetry, the magic quality, of nature. The book 
only deals with everyday human affairs; nature, and the 
belief in her mysterious powers, are quite forgotten. It 
is a poetically written story of bourgeois domestic life, in 
which the marvellous is expressly treated as poetry and 
fancy. Artistic atheism is the spirit of the book. Wilhelm 
Meister is a Candide directed against poetry." 

Novalis's aim, then, is to produce a work exactly 
the opposite of this, one in which everything is finally 
resolved into poetry, in which "the world becomes soul." 
For everything is soul. " Nature is to the soul what a solid 
body is to light. The solid substance stops light, breaks it 
up into wonderful colours, &c, &c. Human beings are 
soul prisms." 

His novel is, then, an allegory, the key to which is 
contained in the fairy-tale introduced into the story. This 
fairy-tale is supposed to show how the true eternal world 



214 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

comes into existence ; it is a description of the restoration 
of that kingdom of love and poetry in which the great 
"world-soul expands and blooms everlastingly." Novalis 
believes that, since the existing heaven and the existing 
earth are of a prosaic nature, and since our age is an age of 
utilitarianism, a poetical day of judgment must come, a spell 
must be broken, before the new life can blossom forth. — 
King Arcturus and his daughter slumber, frozen in their 
palace of ice. They are released by Fable (*'.*. Poetry) and 
her brother, Eros. Eros is the child of the restless father, 
Reason, and the faithful mother, the Heart Fable owes 
her being to unfaithfulness on the part of Reason ; she is 
born of Fancy, daughter of the Moon; her godmother is 
the guardian of the domestic altar, Sophia, Heavenly 
Wisdom. 

Against the good powers in this allegory a conspiracy is 
formed by the Writer. The Writer is the spirit of prose, of 
narrow enlightenment ; he is depicted as constantly writing. 
When Sophia dips what he has written into a bowl which 
stands upon the altar, a little of it sometimes remains legible, 
but often it is all washed out. If drops from the bowl 
happen to fall upon him, they fall from him again in the 
shape of numbers and geometric figures, which he eagerly 
collects, strings upon a thread, and wears round his neck as 
an ornament. The Writer is Novalis's Nureddin. The result 
of his plot is the imprisonment of the Father and Mother 
and the destruction of the altar. 

But Fable has escaped. She descends into the realm of 
Evil, and exterminates Evil by delivering up the Passions to 
the power of the death-bringing Fates. Time and Mortality 
are now no more. " The last thread of the flax is spun ; 
the lifeless is reanimated ; life reigns." In a universal con- 
flagration, the mother, the Heart, is burned to death, the 
sun disappears, and the ice is melted round the palace of 
Arcturus. Through a new, happy earth, stretching far and 
wide under a new heaven, Eros and Fable pass into the 
palace. Fable has fulfilled her mission ; she has brought 
Eros to his beloved, the daughter of the king. The kingdom 
of poetry and love is established. 



LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" 215 

M Gegriindet ist das Reich der Ewigkeit ; 
In Lieb und Frieden endigt sich der Streit ; 
Voriiber ging der lange Traum der Schmerzen ; 
Sophie ist ewig Priesterin der Herzen." l 

Sophia occupies the same place in this allegory that 
Beatrice does in Dante's great poem. 

The glorification of the old Meistersinger is, of course, 
intended as a glorification of poetry in general, but his story, 
as told in the novel, is really the story of Hardenberg's own 
life and endeavour. Heinrich von Ofterdingen's home and 
quiet childhood remind us of Hardenberg's. A dream, which 
seems doubly rich in omen because his father as a youth had 
dreamed one like it, gives him a fore-feeling of the mysterious 
happiness of the poet's life, and shows him, in the form of 
a wonderful blue flower, the object of the poet's longing and 
endeavour. 

In order that he may acquire some knowledge of the 
world, it is decided that Heinrich and his mother shall 
travel, in company with a number of merchants, to Augsburg. 
The incidents of the journey and the tales of his travelling 
companions enrich him with impressions, and fertilise the 
germs of poetical productivity that lie latent in his soul. 
For all their talk is of poetry and poets ; they tell him the 
story of Arion, and popular legends in which poets are the 
equals of kings, and they philosophise on the subject of 
poetry and art, not like merchants of the most barbarous 
period of the Middle Ages, but like Romanticists of the year 
1 80 1. One of them, for example, gives the following pan- 
theistic explanation of the instinctive impulse of mankind 
towards plastic art : " Nature, desiring to have some enjoy- 
ment of all the art that there is in her, has metamorphosed 
herself into human beings. In their minds, through them, 
she rejoices in her own glory, selects what is most pleas 
and lovely, and reproduces it in such a manner ■* 
possess and enjoy it in manifold ways." 

In a castle to which they come, Hei 

1 "The everlasting kingdom is firmly established ; strife on 
the long and painful dream is at an end ; Sophia is priest s 
forward and for ever." 






216 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

captive Eastern girl, whose touching plaint it is interesting 
to compare with the song of the Oriental beauty (La Captive) 
in Victor Hugo's Les Orientates. In a book belonging to a 
mysterious hermit (the original of the charcoal-burner's book 
in Ingemann's Valdemar Sejer) he finds the history of his own 
life. 

The travellers arrive at Augsburg, and here Heinrich makes 
the acquaintance of a poet and a fascinating young girl. In 
Klingsohr he has a noble example of the fully developed 
poet, a poet whose utterances in many ways remind us of 
Goethe's. Almost everything that Klingsohr says is surpris- 
ingly rational and wise ; we can scarcely understand how 
Novalis himself failed to take any of it to heart. The following 
are some of his remarks : " I cannot too strongly recommend 
you to follow your natural inclination to penetrate into the 
reason of things, to study the laws of causation. Nothing is 
more indispensable to the poet than insight into the nature 
of every event, and knowledge of the means whereby to 
attain every aim. . . . Enthusiasm without understanding is 
useless and dangerous, and the poet will be able to effect 
few miracles if he is himself astonished by miracles. . . . The 
young poet cannot be too calm, too thoughtful. True, 
melodious eloquence demands a wide, calm, observing mind." 
Upon one point, however, Klingsohr and Novalis are entirely 
agreed, namely, that everything is, and must be, poetry. " It 
is a great misfortune that poetry should have a special name, 
and that poets should form a separate guild. There is nothing 
separate or special about poetry. It is the mode of action 
characteristic of the human mind. Do not all men aspire 
poetically every moment of their lives ? " 

All Heinrich's love longings are satisfied when he sees 
Klingsohr's daughter, Mathilde. He feels once more as he 
felt when he saw the vision of the "blue flower." But 
Mathilde is drowned. Heinrich loses her as Novalis had 
lost Sophie von Kuhn. Utterly broken down, he leaves 
Augsburg. He is comforted in his sorrow by a vision 
(like the visions Novalis had at Sophie's grave) in which 
he sees the departed and hears her voice. In a distant 
monastery, the mission of whose monks it is to keep alive 



1 



^i LONGING — "THE BLUE FLOWER" 217 

; 4he sacred fire in young souls, and which seems to be 
_I-a species of " spirit-colony," he lives " with the departed." 
^ He experiences all the sensations to which Novalis has given 
-v expression in the Hymns to Night. Then he returns from 
- the spirit-world to life, and falls in love with a being no less 
wonderful than the object of his first passion. Mathilde's 
place is filled by Cyane. 

The second part of the novel is only sketched. Heinrich 

-wanders the whole world round. After going through every 

earthly experience, " he retires again into his soul, as to his 

old home." Things material now become transformed into 

things spiritual. " The world becomes a dream, the dream 

becomes the world." Heinrich finds Mathilde again, but 

she is no longer distinguishable from Cyane — just as, in 

Novalis's own life, Julie was not Julie, but Sophie come to 

life again. And now "the festival of soul," of love and 

eternal fidelity, is celebrated. On this occasion allegory 

reigns supreme. The principle of good and the principle of 

evil appear in open competition, singing antiphonies; the 

sciences do the same, even mathematics. We hear much 

about Indian plants — probably the lotus-flower was made to 

play a part as partaking of the nature of the " blue flower." 

The end of tiie story is merely indicated. Heinrich finds 
the "blue flower" — it is Mathilde. "Heinrich plucks the 
blue flower, an& releases Mathilde from the spell which has 
bound her, but loses her again. Stunned by grief, he turns 
into a stone. Edda, who, besides being herself, is also the 
'blue flower/ the Oriental captive, and Mathilde (fourfold 
4 Doppelgangerei '), sacrifices herself to the stone. It turns 
into a singing tree. Cyane hews down the tree, and burns 
herself along with it, upon which it turns into a golden ram. 
Edda-Mathilde is compelled to sacrifice the ram, and Hein- 
rich becomes a man once more. During these transforma- 
tions he has all manner of wonderful conversations." This 
we can readily believe. 

In Danish literature the work most allied to Heinrich von 
Ofterdingen is Ingemann's De Sorte Riddere ("The Black 
Knights "). We learn from Ingemann's autobiography how 
exactly his frame of mind at the time he was writing this 



218 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

book corresponded to that of the German Romanticist. u I 
paid but little attention to all the great events that were 
happening in the outer world. Even the conflagration of 
Moscow, the destruction of the Great Army, and the fall of 
Napoleon were to me ephemeral phenomena . . . even in 
the German War of Liberation I only saw a divided nation 
in conflict with itself, noble powers without any principle of 
unity and concord. Between the ideal life and human life there 
"i£ lay a yawning abyss, which only the heavenly rainbow of love 
and poetry could bridge over. ... I wrote myself into a 
fairy labyrinth, in which love was my Ariadne-thread, and 
in which I hoped, with the great harp of the poetry of life, 
the strings of which are strung by genius from rock to rock 
over black abysses, to lull the monsters of existence to sleep, 
resolve the dissonances in the great world-harmony, and 
solve the world-mystery." The result of this attempt was 
woeful. 

It is certain that in Heinrich von Ofterdingen Novalis 
succeeded in producing something as unlike Wilhelm Meister 
as possible. The "blue flower" was the emblem of the 
ideal. Here we have the real forgotten in the ideal, and 
the ideal in its emblem. Poetry is entirely separated from 
life. Novalis thinks that this is as it should be. In 
Ofterdingen he says of poets : " Many and important events 
would only disturb them. A simple life is their lot, and 
they must make acquaintance with the varied and number- 
less phenomena of the outer world only by means of tales and 
books. Only seldom during the course of their lives is it 
permissible for them to be drawn into the wild eddy of 
some great event, in order that they may acquire a more 
accurate knowledge of the position and character of men of 
action. Their receptive minds are quite sufficiently occu- 
pied with near and simple phenomena. . . . Here upon 
earth already in possession of the peace of heaven, un- 
tormented by vain desires, only inhaling the fragrance of 
earthly fruits, not devouring them, they are free guests, 
whose golden feet tread lightly, and whose presence causes 
all involuntarily to spread their wings. ... If we compare 
the poet with the hero, we shall find that the poet's song 



LONGING— « THE BLUE FLOWER" 219 

has many a time awakened heroic courage in youthful 
hearts, but never that heroic deeds have called the spirit of 
poetry to life in any soul." 

The fundamental error could not have been defined 
more clearly. According to this theory, poetry is not the 
expression of life and its deeds ; no, life and its deeds have 
poetry as their origin. Poetry creates life. Undoubtedly 
there is poetry of which this may be true ; but if there be 
any one kind of poetry of which it could never be true, it is 
the kind under consideration. To what possible deed could 
it incite? To the changing of one's self into a singing 
tree or a golden ram ? There is no question of action in 
it at all, only of longing. 

All the best of Novalis's work is simply an expression 
of this longing, which includes every desire, from the 
purely natural ones to the most transcendental aspiration. 
Perhaps the most beautiful things he has written are two 
songs — the one giving expression to the sensuous longings 
of the young girl, the other to the longing which is part and 
parcel of the enthusiastic friendship of young men. 

The song in which the young girls complain of the hard- 
ships of their lot is charming. Here the u blue flower " is 
simply the forbidden fruit. But the longing is expressed 
with bewitching roguishness. In the poem " To a Friend," 
again, we have it expressed with fervency and solemnity : — 

" Was passt, das muss sich riinden, 
Was sich versteht, sich finden, 
Was gut ist, sich verbinden, 
Was liebt, zusammen sein, 
Was hindert, muss entweichen, 
Was krumm ist, muss sich gleichen, 
Was fern ist, sich erreichen, 
Was keimt, das muss gedeihn. 

u Gieb treulich mir die Hande, 
Sei Bruder mir und wende 
Den Blick vor Deinem Ende 
Nicht wieder weg von mir. 
Ein Tempel, wo wir knieen, 
Ein Ort, wohin wir ziehen, 
Ein Gliick, fur das wir gliihen, 
Ein Himmel mir und Dir I" 



VOL. II. 



1 



220 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

The longing here is almost that of the Crusader — a seeking 
in the far distance for something great and glorious. The 
" blue flower " melts into the blue of the horizon. Its very 
colour betokens distance. 

Let us dwell for a moment longer on this flower. In 
Spielhagen's Problematische Naturen, one of the characters says : 
" You remember the blue flower in Novalis's tale ? Do you 
know what it is ? It is the flower which no mortal eye has 
seen, yet the fragrance of which fills the world. Not every 
creature is delicately enough organised to perceive its per- 
fume ; but the nightingale is intoxicated with it when she sings 
and wails and sobs in the moonlight and the grey dawn ; and 
so were, and so are, all the foolish human beings who, in prose 
and verse, have poured, and are pouring, forth their woes to 
Heaven ; and so, too, are millions more, to whom no God 
has granted the power to say what they suffer, and who 
look up in dumb anguish to the Heaven which has no 
mercy upon them. And alas ! for this suffering there is no 
cure — none except death. For him who has once inhaled 
the fragrance of the blue flower there is not a peaceful hour 
left in life. Like a murderer, or like one who has turned 
away the Lord from his door, he is driven onward, ever 
onward, however much his tired limbs ache, and however 
fervently he longs to lay down his weary head. When he 
is tormented by thirst, he begs at some hut for a drink ; but 
he hands back the empty vessel without a word of thanks, 
for it was dirty, or there was an ugly insect in the water — in 
any case, he had found no refreshment in it. Refreshment ! 
Where are the eyes which have taken from us the desire 
ever to look into other, brighter, more ardent eyes ? Where 
the breast upon which we have rested with the certain know- 
ledge that we should never long to listen to the beating of a 
warmer, more loving heart? Where? Can you tell me 
where ? " 

" Love," so runs the reply, " is the fragrance of the blue 
flower, which, as you have said, fills the world ; and in every 
being whom you love with your whole heart you have found 
the blue flower." 

11 1 fear that is not a solution of the riddle," says the hero 



LONGING— ''THE BLUE FLOWER" 221 

sorrowfully, "for this very condition, that we should love 
with our whole hearts ... we can never fulfil. Which of 
us can love with his whole heart ? We are all so weary, so 
worn out, that we have neither the strength nor the courage 
essential to true, serious love— that love which does not rest 
until it has taken possession of every thought of a man's mind, 
every feeling of his heart, every drop of blood in his veins." 

This interpretation is a beautiful one, and it is not 
incorrect, but it is not exhaustive. It is not only in love, 
but in every domain of life that the "blue flower" re- 
presents perfect, and hence to that extent ideal, but still 
purely personal happiness. The longing for this, from its 
nature unattainable, happiness is the constant, restless desire 
depicted by all the Romanticists. 

Perhaps not one of the regular German Romanticists is 
so completely the poet of Romantic longing as Shack 
Staff eldt, who, though a German born, wrote in Danish. 
But he does not depict the longing which produced outward 
restlessness. His l ogging is far too deep to be s atisfied b y 
wandering about the world. It is in the writings of 
certain of the later Romanticists that longing appears as the 
restless desire which drives man from place to place. 

Of this it seems to me that we have the most typical 
description in Eichendorff's novel, Aus dent Ltben eines 
Taugenichts ("The Life of a Ne'er-Do-Well "). Published in 
1824, this book was written twenty years after Heinrich von 
Ofterdingett) though by a man only ten years Novalis's junior, 
a disciple of Tieck, an ultra- Romanticist of a pious, amiable 
disposition. ~ 

Joseph, Baron von Eichendorff, the son of a nobleman 
of high position, was born in Upper Silesia in 1788. His 
family being Catholic, his early education was superintended 
by a Catholic ecclesiastic. In 1805 he went to the University 
of Halle to study law, and, amongst other lectures, attended 
those of Professors Schleiermacher and Steffens, the latter of 
whom had a special attraction for him. It was here that he 
made his first acquaintance with Romantic literature ; Novalis 
opened to him a new dream-world, rich in promise. In his 
very first holidays he went to Wandsbeck to visit old Claudius, 






222 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

whom he had loved from his early boyhood. Claudius's 
paper, the Wandsbecker Bote, had been his greatest comfort in 
the days when his tutor plagued him with instructive chil- 
dren's books. There is something of Claudius's mild humour 
in Eichendorff's own poetry. 

The year 1807 found him at Heidelberg, where he made 
the acquaintance of the Romanticists living there, Arnim, 
Brentano, and Gdrres being the most notable. He assisted 
in editing Des Knaben Wunderhorn (a famous collection of 
popular songs and poetry), and collaborated with GSrres in 
his work on the old popular literature. In 1809 he met 
Arnim and Brentano again in Berlin ; here he also made the 
acquaintance of Adam Muller, who exercised a considerable 
influence upon him. He was strongly influenced, too, by 
Fichte's lectures. 

As there seemed no prospect of a career for him in Prussia, 
he went in 18 10 to Vienna, intending to enter the service of 
the Austrian Government. In Vienna he spent much of his 
time in the company of Friedrich Schlegel, formed a close 
friendship with Schlegel's stepson, Philipp Veit, the painter, 
and wrote his first, exaggeratedly Romantic story, Ahnung 
und Gegenwartf which is nothing but a collection of lyric 
dreams and fancies. Nevertheless, in this work, as well as in 
his later productions, it was his desire to contrast the " fervent 
harmony existing between healthy, fresh humanity and 
nature, in forest, stream, and mountain, shining mornings 
and dreamy starlit nights, with the empty pleasures of the 
great world, and the affected prudery or real depravity of 
the period." As in all his works, adventure predominates. 
As soon as he quits the domain of merry vagabond life 
and romantic adventure, he is in danger of relapsing into 
the supernatural and horrible. 

Instead of entering the Austrian Government service as 
he had intended, he determined to take part in the war 
against Napoleon. He joined Lutzow's famous Free Corps, 
and was attached to a militia battalion. He had just been 
discharged when the news came of Napoleon's return from 
Elba. He immediately enlisted again, and entered Paris 
with the German troops. 



LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" 223 

In course of time he received an appointment in the 
Prussian Kultusministerium (department of religion and 
education), and developed into a conscientious and capable 
official. In 1840, a dispute between the Government and 
the Roman Catholic bishops produced strained relations 
between him (the good Catholic) and the head of his 
department. He sent in his resignation, but it was not 
immediately accepted ; he was commissioned to prepare a 
report on the restoration of the castle of Marienburg. 

Having made himself master of the Spanish language, 
he translated some of Calderon's Autos Sacramentales. This 
pursuit led to a still closer connection between him and the 
leaders of the Ultramontane party. In his later years he 
criticised modern German literature in the spirit of orthodox 
Catholicism, writing of the Catholic tendency of the Roman- 
ticists as if it were the most important and best feature of 
the school, and treating the change of opinion of some of 
the leaders in regard to this matter as a falling away from 
the truth and a sign of literary decadence. He looked with 
contempt upon Schiller's heroes, with their "rhetorical 
ideality," and upon the symbolic " Naturpoesie " of Goethe's 
shorter poems. " How different," he says, " is the great idea 
of Romanticism, home-sickness, longing for the lost home — that 
is to say, for the universal, the Catholic Church." With these 
unsound theories Eichendorff combined real and considerable 
lyrical talent. No one has given, in a condensed form, better 
representations of the longings and the ideals of Romanticism. 
In the little story, Aus dent Leben eines Taugenichts, we^seem 
to hear young Romanticism twittering and singing as if he 
had caught it bodily and shut it up in a cage. It is all 
there — the fragrance of the woods and the song of the 
birds; longing for travel and delig ht in i t, especially when 
It aly is the go al ; Sunday emotions and moonlight^ ^genuine 
Romantic vagrancy and idleness — such idleness that from 
want of use the limbs actually begin to fall out of joint, 
and the hero begins to feel as though he "were tumbling 
to pieces." 

The Ne'er-Do-Well is a miller's son, young and poor, 
whose only pleasure in life is to lie unde r h 



V 






224 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

up into the sky, or to roam aimlessly about the country 
with his zither, singing such sad and beautiful songs that 
the hearts of all who hear him "long." "Every one," he 
says, "has his allotted place upon this earth, his warm 
hearth, his cup of coffee, his wife, his glass of wine of an 
evening, and is content. But I am content nowhere." He, 
the humble gardener (for such, when he does work, is his 
occupation), adores a high-born, lovely lady whom he has 
only seen once or twice ; he addresses her in a beautiful and 
touching song : — 

" Wohin ich geh' und schauc 
In Feld und Wald und Thai, 
Vom Berg hinab in die Aue, 
Vielsch6ne, hohe Fraue, 
Gruss ich dich tausendmal. 

In meinem Garten find' ich 
Viel Blumen, sch&n und fein, 
Viel Kranze wohl draus wind 1 ich, 
Und tausend Gedanken bind 1 ich 
Und Griisse mit darein. 

u Ihr darf ich keinen reichen, 
Sie ist zu hoch und schon ; 
Sie miissen alle verbleichen, 
Die Liebe nur ohne Gleichen 
Bleibt ewig im Herzen stehn. 

" Ich schein' wohl froher Dinge 
Und schaffe auf und ab, 
Und ob das Herz zerspringe, 
Ich grabe fort und singe 
Und grab 1 mir bald mein Grab." * 

Through his lady's influence he is promoted to the post 
of rent-collector for the castle. He inherits from his pre- 
decessor a magnificent dressing-gown, red with yellow spots, 

1 "From wherever I am, field, forest, valley, meadow, or mountain-top, I send t 
thousand greetings to my fair and noble lady. In my garden I gather the loveliest 
flowers that blow ; I bind them into wreaths, and bind along with them a thousand 
thoughts and greetings. I may not give her my flowers; she is too great and 
beautiful ; they wither, every one, but love lives eternally in my heart. In seeming 
cheerfulness I go about my daily task ; my heart is breaking, but I dig and sing, and 
soon I'll dig my grave. u 



LONGING— ''THE BLUE FLOWER" 225 

a pair of green slippers, a nightcap, and some long-stemmed 
pipes. 

Arrayed in his new splendour, and smoking the longest 
pipe he can find, he lives a quiet, easy life for some time, 
digging up all the potatoes and vegetables in his garden and 
planting flowers in their stead, listening with rapture to a 
distant hunting or post horn, and placing a bouquet every 
morning upon a stone table where his lady is certain to find it. 
This goes on until she vanishes from his horizon. As he is 
sitting alone one day over his account-book, his zither lying 
beside him, a sunbeam falls through the window upon 
its dusty strings. " It touched a string in my heart. ' Yes,' 
said I ; ' come away, my faithful zither ! Our kingdom is not 
of this world!'" So he leaves behind his account-book, 
dressing-gown, slippers, and pipe, and wanders out into the 
wide world ; to Italy first. 

This Ne'er-Do-Well is the most comical, awkward, child- 
like creature one can imagine ; in mind he is about ten years 
old, and he never grows any older. Like Andersen's heroes, 
the Improvisatore and O.T., he is repeatedly saved from 
temptation simply by his ignorance and inexperience. He 
never realises what is going on around him. ~Things happen 
to him without his doing anything to bring them about. He 
is the central figure of a group of characters who all pursue 
callings which leave them as free as he is him self — painters 
travelling to Italy, an artist who runs away with his "lady- 
love, musicians wandering from town to town, and roaming 
students, who trudge along, singing student songs. Com- 
pared with this life of wandering and seeking and expecta- 
tion, ordinary, every-day life naturally appears excessively 
monotonous. When the hero returns to his native town, he 
finds the new rent-collector sitting at his door, wearing the 
same spotted dressing-gown, the same slippers, &c. After 
having spent his life seeking for his " b lue flowe r." he finds 
it at last at home. His first rapture is described play- 
fully, almost in Hans Andersen's manner, as follows : " It 
was such a pleasure to hear her talk so brightly and trust- 
fully to me, that I could have listened to her till morning. 
I was as happy as I could be. I took a handful of almonds, 



226 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

which I had brought all the way from Italy, out of my 
pocket. She took some, and we sat and cracked them, 
and looked contentedly out over the peaceful scene." 

The Ne'er-Do-Well may be regarded as the representa- 
tive, the spokesman, of the ornamental, profitless arts, and 
^ of infinite longing. Infinite longing ! Let us imprint these 
words in our memory, for they are the foundation-stone of 
Romantic poetry. 

The longing took curiously morbid forms in the less 
healthy Romantic souls. The well-known German author, 
Franz Horn, informs us in his autobiography that at the age 
of three or four he was already capable of poetic longing 
and suffering, and of divining life in apparently dead things. 
He goes on to say that the child-like mysticism of a certain 
popular refrain had a perfectly magic attraction for him. 
He quotes the verse in question, and it proves to be none 
other than the good old rhyme : " Ladybird, Ladybird, fly 
away home ! " 

" Maikafer flieg 1 
Dein Vater ist im Krieg, 
Deine Mutter ist im Pommerland, 
Und Pommerland ist abgebrannt, 
Maikafer flieg!" 1 

The other children were hard-hearted enough to laugh at 
this poem, but to him it seemed most touching. The unhappy 
cockchafer was fatherless and motherless. His father was 
in the wars, and " what might not come of that ? " And his 
mother ? Of her " the news was still more uncertain" She 
was in far-off Pomerania, and Pomerania was on fire ! What 
scope for fancy ! And there was the poor cockchafer, too, 
borne on the wings of his longing out into the wide, wide 
world, seeking, ever seeking. — We positively feel as if we were 
turning into children again. 

But let us return to the idea that underlies all this. The 
longing of the individual for infinite happiness rests, as has 
already been said, upon the belief that this infinite happiness 
is attainable by man. But this belief, in its turn, rests upon 

1 " Fly, cockchafer, fly ! Your father is in the wars ; your mother is in Pom- 
merland, and Pommerland is on fire. Fly, cockchafer, fly I" 



LONGING— "THE BLUE FLOWER" 227 



y 



the individual's Romantic conviction of his own infinite import- 
ance. The doctrine of immortality itself is only a result of 
belief in the cosmic importance of the individual. And this 
belief in the infinite importance of each separate individual is 
genuinely medieval. Whole sciences, such as astrology, were 
founded upon it. The very stars of heaven were supposed to 
have a close connection with the destinies of individual men, 
and actually to occupy themselves with them. Heaven and 
earth and all that in them is, revolved round man. The 
Romanticists naturally feel the want of astrology, and would 
fain have the science restored. What they call the "blue 
flower " is what in astrology was called a man's planet, and 
in alchemy, the philosopher's stone. 

In his lectures Upon the Literature, Art, and Spirit of the 
Age (1802), A. W. Schlegel writes: "In the same sense in 
which we may call Kepler the last astrologist, we may demand 
that astronomy should become astrology again. Astrology fell into 
disrepute because it made pretensions to science which it could 
not sustain ; but the fact of its having made such pretensions 
does not take away the idea, the imperishable truths, which 
lie at its foundation. There is unquestionably something 
more sublime in the idea of the dynamic influence of the 
stars, in the supposition that they are animated by reason, 
and, like subordinate deities, exercise creative power in their 
appointed spheres, than in the theory that they are dead, 
mechanically governed masses/' And in a letter to Buntzen, 
Heiberg writes : " It must be allowed that the Middle Ages, 
with their alchemistic and astrological superstitions, which, 
albeit superstitions, were based upon a belief in the unity 
of nature and mind • • . possessed more of the true scientific 
spirit than the present day, with its deliberate renuncia- 
tion of the one thing which in the long run is of any 
account." In the same strain (in his essay on Hveen) he 
praises astrology, as "based upon the profound mysticism 
of the Middle Ages." When even Heiberg could praise 
Tycho Brahe for his astrological bias, can we wonder that 
Grundtvig defended his hypothesis of the earth h^na the 
centre of the universe ? O Romanticism I P 

The Romanticists aimed at founding 



w/ 



/ J 



228 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a literature upon want and longing — that is to say, 
upon the idea of the infinite importance of the individual. 
The man who bases his philosophy of life upon want is 
certainly more reasonable than the man who bases it upon 
either present happiness or the pleasures and bliss of a future 
existence ; for all the happiness we know is undermined by 
sorrow and by insufficiency, and thus it is on the whole better 
and safer to build upon want and desire. But the Romanti- 
cists do not build upon desire alone, but also upon its 
satisfaction ; they yearn, they wander about in longing 
quest of the "blue flower," which beckons to them from 
afar. 

Longing, however, is inactivity, is nourished and thrives 
upon inactivity. He who has left the Romantic philosophy 
behind him will not base his life upon such a foundation. 

Longing engenders the impotent wish. But the Romantic 
wish is so instinct with genius, that its fulfilment is permitted 
— in the Romantic world. What desire promises, life fulfils. 
Fortune comes to the genuine Romantic hero while he sleeps. 
Romantic literature consequently leaves the simple-minded 
reader with the impression of a world where everything 
comes to those who know how to long and to desire ardently 
enough, where all hindrances are swept aside without labour, 
without understanding, without trouble. 

It is eternally true that we long ; and it is no less true 
that we must build upon something certain. Amidst all 
the uncertainty, insecurity, and doubt wherewith we are 
surrounded, there is one thing certain, one thing which cannot 
be explained away, and that is suffering. And equally certain 
is the good of the alleviation of suffering and of release from 
it. It is certain that it is extremely disagreeable to endure 
pain, to be fettered, or to be imprisoned ; and it is equally 
certain that it is a great relief to be cured, to have one's 
fetters loosed, one's prison door flung wide open. Hie 
RhoduSy hie salta I Here is a deed to be done, a stroke to 
be struck for liberty. We may wander about, full of un- 
certainty and doubt, not knowing what to believe or what 
to do ; but from the moment we come upon a fellow-being 
with his fingers jammed in some heavy door that has shut 



LONGING— " THE BLUE FLOWER" 229 

upon them, there is no longer any doubt what we have to 
do. We must try to open the door and release the hand. 

And, fortunately or unfortunately, it so happens that 
there are always plenty of human beings whose hands are 
caught fast, plenty who suffer, plenty who sit in all manner 
of chains — chains of ignorance, of dependence, of stupidity, v 
of slavery. To free these must be the object of our lives. 
The Romanticist egotistically pursues his personal happiness, 
and believes himself to be of infinite importance. The child 
of the new age will neither scan the heavens in search of 
his star nor the far horizon in search of the " blue flower.'' 
Longing is inactivity. He will act. He will understand 
what Goethe meant by making Wilhelm Meister end his 
life as a physician. 

If it is impossible to found a satisfactory philosophy of 
life upon longing, it is equally impossible to found upon it 
a literature which has any connection with life, and which is 
capable of satisfying in the long run. The task of litera- 
ture in all ages is to give a condensed representation of the 
life of a people and an age. Romanticism contemptuously 
refused this task. Novalis in Germany and Shack Staffeldt 
in Denmark present the most typical examples of the manner 
in which it turned its back on outward reality, to create a 
poetico-philosophic system out of the mind and the poetical 
longing of the author. It does not represent human life in 
all its breadth and depth, but the dreams of a few highly 
intellectual individuals. The cloud-city of Aristophanes, 
with its air-castles, is the sacred city and goal of its longing. 



XIV 

ARNIM AND BRENTANO 

Herder's Stimmen der Vdlber (" Voices of the Nations"), 
published in 1767, contained only twenty German "Volks- 
lieder ; " but at the time he brought it out, he expressed the 
wish that he might live to see the publication of a large 
collection of the old " Nationallieder," as he called them. 
In 1806 L. A. von Arnim and Clemens Brentano published 
the first volume of Des Knaben Wunderhom; it contained 
210 German popular songs and ballads, and was followed 
in 1808 by two more volumes of about the same size. 
This book was not only of the greatest historical interest, 
but was epoch-making, in German lyric poetry and German 
literature generally. Vlt struck that natural note which for 
many years gave freshness and sonority to both the 
Romantic and the ante-Romantic lyric poetry. Even when, 
in the case of Heine, the entirely modern had supplanted 
the Romantic theme, rhythm and form and many hardly 
noticeable turns of expression owed their simple charm to 
the inspiration of the Volkslied. The superiority of German 
to French lyric poetry in this century possibly lies chiefly in 
that absence of everything rhetorical which it owes to the 
influence of Des Knaben Wunderhortu ) 

Though the two publishers of this great collection were 
of one accord in their love for the old popular poetry of 
their country, and also as to the slightly modernised and 
carefully expurgated form in which the songs were to appear, 
and though both were thorough-going Romanticists in prin- 
ciple, they were men of very different characters. 

Ludwig Achim von Arnim was born in Berlin in 1781. 
He studied natural science for some time in Gottingen, and 
then travelled all over Germany, to make himself acquainted 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 231 

with the country and the people and to collect popular songs 
and ballads. After this he settled for a time in Heidelberg, 
where he met Clemens Brentano and Gdrres. In company 
with them, in 1808, he started a literary periodical, the 
Einsudlerzeitung (" Hermit's Chronicle "), amongst the con- 
tributors to which were Tieck, Uhland, Holderlin, and Jacob 
Grimm. This periodical he continued at a later time under 
the title Trtisteinsamkeit (" Consolation in Solitude "). 

In 181 1 he married Brentano's sister, the famous Bettina, 
and thenceforward lived partly in Berlin and partly on his 
estate of Wiepersdorf in Brandenburg. He kept his Roman- 
ticism out of his private life ; he was a sane, healthy human 
being, a clever farmer, a sober Protestant and Prussian. 
Eichendorff describes him as follows : " Handsome and 
distinguished looking, frank, ardent, and yet gentle, honour- 
able and reliable in all things, faithful to his friends even 
when every one else deserted them, Arnim was in reality 
what others, by dint of a sort of mediaeval polish, strove to 
appear — a knightly figure in the best sense of the word ; 
but for this very reason it always seemed to his contempo- 
raries that there was something strange and out of place 
about him." 

Something strange there must certainly have been in 
his nature, for, staid and sober, calm and harmonious as 
was his life, his writings give us the impression of rest- 
lessness and complexity. He himself was cast in one piece, 
his works never are. 

Besides plays, now unreadable, he wrote two long 
novels and a number of short tales, which all bear 
witness to the fantast in him. The epithet "fantast" may 
be equally suitably applied to Brentano. The first con- 
spicuous difference between the two is, that, whereas Bren- 
tano's strength lies in his naivete and his childlike fancies, 
Arnim is profoundly serious even in his wildest flights. 
With all his love for the popular, with all his eagerness 
to open the eyes of the cultured to the beauty of the 
simple and childlike, he remained the dignified aristocrat 
in his own writings ; he never let himself go as Brentano 
did. When his muse has a paroxysm of madness, it is cold, 



232 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

almost severe insanity, not a fiery, merry frenzy, like that 
to which Brentano's muse is subject. 

His power of plastic representation was great, but 
quickly exhausted. It shows to advantage in some of his 
short stories, and in some still shorter fragments of his long 
novels ; but along with descriptions and figures which evince 
real talent, we are presented with a mass of padding — diffuse 
digressions from the subject, interpolated tales which have 
little or no connection with the tale proper, fantastic, impos- 
sible episodes, against which even the reader with the most 
undeveloped sense of realism must protest. Sometimes he 
lays the whole stock of popular superstitions under contribu- 
tion, treating them with the utmost seriousness — clay figures 
are magically endowed with life ; a mandrake develops into 
Field-Marshal Cornelius Nepos. At other times he has 
recourse to the stock-in-trade of the old-fashioned romances 
— fabulous parentage, recovery of long-lost children, dis- 
guises, strange meetings after the lapse of many years. He 
is also given to introducing ballads and songs, generally 
under the rather flimsy pretext that they are the com- 
position of one or other of his characters: fluent, but 
not melodious, they interrupt the course of the action, 
momentarily attract the attention of the reader, and are 
immediately forgotten. 

Arnim's principal novel with a modern plot, Armutk, 
Reichthum, Schuld und Busse der Gr&fin Dolores : Eine wahre 
Geschichte zur Uhrreichen Unterhaltung armer Fr&ulein auf- 
geschrieben (" Poverty, Wealth, Sin, and Penance of Countess 
Dolores: A True Story, Recorded for the Instruction and 
Amusement of Poor Young Ladies"), is, taken as a whole, 
quite as tedious as its title. This novel is another of Wilhelm 
Master's progeny. It describes the inner life of gifted and 
distinguished individuals of very varied character, in very 
varied circumstances. But there is a smooth, pious strain 
throughout the whole, which is altogether unlike Wilhelm 
Meister. 

The story opens with a description of a castle which has 
fallen almost into ruins because of its owner's poverty. This 
description is striking and good ; it has its counterpart in 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 233 

French literature in the picture of the Chateau de la Mis&re 
in Th. Gautier's Capitaine Fracasse. We are made to feel all the 
melancholy associated with the idea of former grandeur and 
present decay. The somewhat frivolous and selfish character 
of the penniless young Countess Dolores is also drawn with a 
masterly hand. This lady succeeds in engaging the affections 
of a distinguished and rich young man, Count Karl, who 
falls passionately in love with her and marries her, after 
overcoming various outward and inward difficulties. In the 
character of Count Karl, Arnim has succeeded in doing what 
had perhaps never been done in German literature before, 
namely, depicting what the English call a perfect gentleman , 
a conception for which other nations have no corresponding ' 
expression. A gentleman is a man of honour, manly, serious, , j 
born to command ; he is, moreover, a good Christian, con- ^ 
scientious, unselfish, the protector of those around him, not 
only good by natural disposition, but moral on principle. 
In this character Arnim seems to have embodied much of 
what was best in his own nature. Unfortunately he did 
not succeed in imparting to it sufficient life ; a kind of 
dream-haze surrounds this man of fine feelings, who is 
always writing verses and who talks a language inspired by 
the spirit of romance. 

The plot turns upon the seduction of the young Countess. 
She is ensnared by a Spanish duke, who, under a false name 
and title, gains admission to the house, flatters her vanity in 
every possible way, and gradually, by the help of magnetism 
and romantic mysticism, gains complete influence over her, 
and persuades her that he has some mysterious connection 
with higher, nay, actually with divine, powers. It seems 
almost as if Arnim must have had Zacharias Werner in his 
mind when he drew this character. In Werner's writings 
we have exactly this same mixture of impudent lust and 
sanctimonious mystery ; and we know that with Werner's 
mother it became a fixed idea that she was the Virgin Mary 
and her son the Saviour of the world. We come upon a 
similar idea in the following somewhat ineffective description 
of the seduction of Dolores : — 

"The Marquis looked up to the sky with an inspired 



234 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

gaze, held up his hands, and appeared to salute some superior 
being. He said something, but she could not hear what it 
was, and anxiously asked what he saw. He answered that 
he saw the blessed Virgin, that she was pressing her, 
Dolores, to his breast and placing a crown of roses on 
her head, saying : ' Follow me ! ' Dolores, startled, went 
close up to him, imagining that she felt herself pushed 
towards him; she felt his breath, imagined it to be the 
divine breath, and cried : ' I feel her, I feel her breath ; it is 
warm as the sun of the East and as a mother's love.' Upon 
this, exclaiming : ' And I am her son ! ' he seized her in 
his arms, trembling convulsively. He had often talked to 
her before of a wonderful renewal of the holy myth; 
she seemed almost unconscious as she stammered the 
words: 'Yes, it is thou, the all-powerful, the most holy 
— who hast been given to me in the weakness of our 
human nature.' 'And thou,' he sobbed, 'art my eternal 
bride."' 

It would almost seem as though it had been Arnim's 
intention to describe with the aid of these fictitious 
characters, the mystic-sensual debaucheries of one of his 
fellow Romanticists, a Werner or a Brentano. He himself 
was almost the only one of the school who, in spite of 
the poetic attraction of Catholicism, remained all his life 
a staunch Protestant. He seems to be attempting to ex- 
plain exactly that species of piety which mixed itself up 
with the licentiousness of his Romantic contemporaries 
when he gives the following diagnosis of the character 
of the hypnotising seducer: "We are not justified in 
altogether doubting the piety of this nobleman, which to 
his truly pious wife seemed so real. He too possessed 
the religious instinct ; and it was Clelia's natural piety 
which attracted him to her, though the attraction did not 
last long. . . . Afterwards superstitious fear took possession 
of him. He had outlived his vices. It was now not 
merely his religious instinct which impelled him to visit all 
the places of pilgrimage in Sicily and all the famous priests ; 
he was deluding himself into the piety which in his wife was 
genuine. It was a new stimulant, the strength of which he 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 235 

was obliged constantly to increase. Religion was to him a 
kind of opium ; his nature craved for more and more of it, 
till all craving was at an end." (Grafin Dolores, ii. 136, &c.) 

But it is not only the excesses peculiar to the 
Romanticists which Arnim reprehends ; he also sharply 
and wittily castigates the anti-Romanticist, Jens Baggesen. 
In Heidelberg, where he must have met Arnim, Baggesen 
had written a series of satirical sonnets directed against 
the Romanticists, " literary sansculottes on the German 
Parnassus," as he called them. These he published in the 
same year that Dolores appeared, under the title, Der Kar- 
funkel- oder Klingklingel- Almanack, ein Taschenbuch fUr vollendete 
Rotnantiker und angehende Mystiker auf das Jahr der Gnade 
1 810. It was, however, undoubtedly less Baggesen's verses 
than his extraordinary instability of character which pro- 
voked Arnim's satire. The life of this enemy of Romanti- 
cism was more planless and capricious than the life of any 
one of the Romanticists ; and Arnim, for whom everything 
strange and improbable had an attraction, could not fail to 
be interested in such a singular personality. In Dolores he 
caricatures him wittily and mercilessly in the person of the 
poet " Waller." But though, in this instance, the weaknesses 
of a special individual are caricatured, Arnim's general 
purpose unmistakably is to throw into salient relief charac- 
teristics which exemplify the lawlessness and levity of the 
emotional life of a whole generation. 

His unfinished historical novel, Die Kronenw&chter ("The 
Guardians of the Crown"), published in 181 7, presents us, 
like Doloresy with several well-conceived and ably elaborated 
characters along with a mass of undigested mystic and 
lyric material. In the background of this tale looms a 
huge, mysterious, enchanted castle, the seven towers of 
which are absolutely transparent ; they appear to be built 
of glass, for each of them projects a brilliant rainbow upon 
black rocks and upon distant water. In this castle the 
guardians of the crown of the Hohenstaufens have their 
lonely retreat, and hence they sally forth into the world, 
to act and to avenge. But it is not this mystical back- 
ground which is of importance. What one really remem- 

VOL. II. Q 



236 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IX GERMANY 

bers are one or two characters portrayed with such virile 
force as probably no German author has exhibited since, 
unless it be Gottfried Keller, in his historical novels. 

We have, for example, the hero's foster-mother, Fran 
Hildegard, to whom we are thus amusingly introduced at 
the beginning of the book: — "Martin, the new tower 
watchman, has to-day married his predecessor's widow, 
because she has grown too stout to come down the narrow 
corkscrew stair. We really could not pull the tower down 
for her sake, so she had to make up her mind to this 
marriage, though she would have preferred our clerk, 
BertholcL The priest has had to tie the knot up there." 
This story of the widow's corpulence is of course nonsense, 
but none the less it makes a very original beginning to 
the book. 

The action passes in the days of Luther, and Luther's 
figure is seen in the background. It is rare to find a 
Romanticist writing of him with such warmth as this: — 
"As a mountain sends out streams to the east and to the 
west, so this man combined opposites, things that in others 
are never found together — humility and pride, conviction of 
the path he was bound to tread and willing acceptance of the 
advice of others, clear understanding and blind faith." 

A prominent part in the action is taken by Dr. Faust, 
the Faustus of popular legend, the famous doctor and 
alchemist. He is represented with a fiery red face, white 
hair, and bald crown, wearing scarlet trunk hose and 
ten orders. He is half-genius, half-charlatan, and works 
miraculous cures. 

The most beautifully drawn character is that of a 
woman, the hero's betrothed, Anna Zahringer, daughter 
of Apollonia, the love of his youth. She is the tall 
German maiden of powerful build and noble carriage, 
but she also possesses the sensuous attraction which 
Gottfried Keller has a special faculty of imparting to his 
young women. The hero of the story, Berthold, the 
burgomaster, is another personification of Arnim's personal 
ideal. He is of noble descent, but having grown up in 
humble circumstances, is simple and plain in all his ways, 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 237 

a good, upright, quiet citizen. Yet all the time he is at 
heart an aristocrat, who longs for armour and weapons and 
tournaments, and who actually, without previous training, 
wins the prize in the first tournament in which he takes 
part. 

Mystic incidents are, of course, not lacking. If Arnim 
could not forego them in his modern novel, in which 
we read of a priest who, with one look, imparted to 
childless wives the power of conception, they were certain 
to occur much more frequently, and to be of an even more 
surprising nature, in a tale of times long past. Faust, for 
instance, cures Berthold by injecting into his veins some of the 
blood of a stalwart young man, Anton by name, and ever 
after this, Berthold has the feeling that Anton has somehow 
acquired a right of possession in his, Berthold's, lady-love, 
Anna ; and Anton himself immediately feels mysteriously 
attracted to Anna. Die Kronenwdchter, like all Arnim's 
longer productions, is a piece of patchwork, though it must 
be allowed that the patchwork does not lack poetic value. 

It was only in his short tales that he succeeded in 
producing the effect of unity. Philander is a clever and 
pleasing imitation of the style of Moscherosch, a writer 
who lived in the days of the Thirty Years' War. In 
FUrst Ganzgott und Sdnger Halbgott, we have a humorous 
variation of the favourite Romantic "Doppelganger" theme, 
based upon an extraordinary likeness between two half- 
brothers who do not know each other ; the story is at the 
same time a travesty of the stiffness and burdensome con- 
ventions of small courts. But Arnim's best and most charac- 
teristic work is the short tale, Der folk Invalide auf dem Fort 
Ratonneau. In it we have all his quaint extravagance, 
without any breach of the laws of possibility ; and the 
central idea is touchingly human. 

The story, like most of Arnim's, has a whimsically 
grotesque introduction. The old Commandant of Mar- 
seilles, Count Durande, is sitting in the evening by his 
crackling fire, shoving olive branches into the flames with 
his wooden leg, and dreaming of the construction of new 
kinds of fireworks, when he suddenly awakens to the fact 



238 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

that his leg is on fire. He shouts- for help, and a strange 
woman, who is in the act of entering the room, rushes 
up to him and attempts to stifle the flames with her apron ; 
the burning wooden leg sets fire to the apron, but the 
two are saved by people rushing in from the street with 
buckets of water. The woman's errand is to present a 
petition on behalf of her husband, whose behaviour has 
been peculiar ever since he received a wound in the head. 
He is a most capable, deserving sergeant, only at times so 
irritable that it is impossible to get on with him. Partly 
out of compassion, partly because the case interests him, 
the Commandant gives this sergeant charge of a fort which 
only requires a garrison of three men, where, therefore, he 
runs no great danger of falling out with those about him. 

Hardly has he entered the fort before he has an attack 
of furious madness ; he turns out his good wife, refuses 
to admit his two subordinates, declares war against the 
Commandant, and opens fire upon Marseilles from his 
high, inaccessible nest upon the cliffs. For three days he 
keeps the town in a state of terror. Preparations are made 
for the storming of the fort, in spite of the certain prospect 
of loss of life and the fear that the madman may blow 
up the powder magazine. His brave wife, who loves him, 
mad as he is, begs that she may first be allowed to try to 
get into the fort, and, if possible, disarm her husband. He 
fires upon her, but, led by her love, she climbs undismayed 
up the Harrow rocky path at the top of which two loaded 
cannons face her. And now, as the result of this terrible 
excitement, the old wound in the madman's head bursts 
open again ; he comes to his senses, totters to meet his wife 
— he and she and the town are saved. 

The effect of this little work is rather weakened by the 
introduction of supernatural agencies ; the whole calamity, 
namely, is explained to be the result of a stepmother's 
foolish curse ; still, the story in its simplicity is a glorifica- 
tion of that strong, beautiful love which has power to drive 
out even the devil himself. 

And in this, as in several of his other tales, Arnim evinces 
a humane sympathy with the lower classes which becomes 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 239 

the aristocratic Romanticist well. It is the same feeling of 
affection for those who are simple of heart as that which led 
him to collect and publish the popular songs and ballads, 
and which finds expression in Dolores in the following words 
of the hero: "I swear to you that often, when I had to 
pay a couple of thalers for a few lines containing some 
utterly superfluous formality, I felt a furious desire to take 
up the inkpot and knock in the lawyer's teeth with it. I 
should not have been the least surprised to see a flash of 
lightning come straight from heaven and burn up all his 
musty documents. And if I feel thus, how much more 
grievous must such an outlay seem to the poor man who 
has perhaps to work a whole week from morning till late 
at night to scrape the money together." We come on 
this same idea again in his essay Von Volksliedern, where 
he declares that the people have come " to look on the law 
as they look upon a hurricane, or any other superhuman 
power, against which they must defend themselves, or from 
which they must hide, or which leaves them nothing to do 
but despair." 

His aristocratic bias is perceptible in all his Romantic 
vagaries. 

With Arnim's name is always coupled that of Clemens 
Brentano (1 778-1 849), his partner in the work of collecting 
and publishing the German popular songs and ballads. 
Brentano resembles Arnim in his habit of giving free rein to 
a vivid imagination, but differs from him in being an un- 
stable, unreliable personality. His talent is more sparkling 
and supple, he is more of an intellectual prodigy ; but it is 
as a psychological phenomenon that he awakens our interest, 
not as a man. His only claim upon our sympathy is, that 
he does not, like his spiritual kinsman, Zacharias Werner, 
degrade himself by sentimental obscenity. He does not act 
basely, but he is never truthful in the strictest sense of the 
word, until, intellectually dulled, he renounces the calling of 
poet, or even of author, and lives entirely for his religious 
enthusiasms. His case has a certain resemblance to that 
of Holderlin, who became insane at such an early age — 
the last twenty-five years of his life are lost to literature. 



240 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

In his young days Brentano is the jester of the Roman- 
ticists, the wayward knave and wag who cannot refrain from 
doing what he knows will cost him the friends he has made, 
nor from disturbing and destroying the emotions and illusions 
which he himself has skilfully produced. With the quality, 
rare among the Romanticists, of grace in art, he combines a 
certain simple pathos. Like many other men of productive 
intellect, when he took pen in hand he became more pro- 
found, more serious, and, above all, more warm-hearted than 
he was in real life. Hence he not unfrequently as an artist 
produces the impression of genuineness, though he was in- 
sincere as a man. 

As an intellectual personality he had no backbone. 
Destitute of firm convictions, he could only conceive of two 
attitudes towards the principle of authority in matters of 
belief — wild revolt or unqualified submission. His intellect 
oscillated between these two extremes until it found rest in 
submission. 

Of all his gifts and capacities, he, the arch-Romanticist, 
had only sought to develop that of imagination. Pal- 
pably true is the following confession extracted from one of 
his letters : " Oh, my child ! we had nourished nothing but 
imagination, and it, in return, had half devoured us." Un- 
bridled imagination, developed without any counterbalancing 
quality, is distinctly akin to mendacity; and, as a matter 
of fact, Brentano in his youth was an incorrigible liar, 
whose favourite amusement it was to move ladies to tears 
by accounts of his entirely imaginary woes. 

He was the enfant perdu of the Romantic School. He 
might also be called the prodigal son of poetry. Like the 
young man in the New Testament, he was a spendthrift. 
He squandered all the many good and witty ideas that 
occurred to him, all the fertile situations which he invented, 
upon works destitute of definite plan and form, and con- 
sequently destitute of the power to withstand time, which 
so soon sweeps away everything formless. Before he 
was forty he had exhausted his intellectual capital, had 
squandered his substance, and was fain, like the young 
man of the Bible, "to fill his belly with the husks that 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 241 

the swine did eat" — the husks that were the food of only 
ignorant and superstitious human beings. In other words, 
he relapsed into foolish bigotry. In the year 1817 he 
began to go to confession again, as in the days of his 
earliest youth, and in the following year withdrew from 
all intercourse with his fellows, to pass the next six years 
of his life in devout contemplation by the sick-bed of the nun, 
Catharina Emmerich, who bore on her body the marks 
of the wounds of Christ. He regarded the bodily in- 
firmities of this pious, single-minded, but perfectly hysterical 
girl, as so many wonderful signs of grace, believed in the 
miraculousness of the supposed imprints of the Saviour's 
wounds, and with awe-stricken compassion watched them 
bleed from time to time. Catharina's words convinced him 
that she possessed a mysterious, supernatural gift of second- 
sight, and he carefully noted down every one of her visions 
and hallucinations. He wrote the story of her life, edited 
her reflections, and wrote to her dictation The Life of the 
Most Blessed Virgin Mary. After her death, which happened 
in 1824, practically his only occupation was the preparing 
for publication of the fourteen volumes of manuscript con- 
taining her various utterances. 

Brentano's life is a remarkable exemplification of the 
truth of the words of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust: — 

" Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft, 
Des Menschen aller hochste Kraft, 
Lass nur in Blend-und Zauberwerken 
Dich von dem Lugengeist bestarken, 
So hatf ich dich schon unbedingt." 1 

Hallucinations and magic played no small part in his 
existence, and the man who had begun by sneering at 
rationalism as dull and barren, fell a prey to ideas far duller 
and more barren than the emptiest rationalism. He was no 
more a hypocrite than the good soul, Catharina Emmerich, 
was an impostor. But the craving for some firm, external 
support for his weak, wavering Ego, now still farther en- 

1 " Yes, despise reason and science, the highest possessions of man, let yourself be 
persuaded by the spirit of lies to believe in hallucinations and magic, and you are 
mine without fail." 



242 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

feebled by remorse for the recklessness of his youth, led 
him to cling with all the fanatical enthusiasm of his soul 
to the Church and its miracles, just as he had clung in 
earlier days to poetry with its fairy-tales and magic. 

In his later years he was possessed by a kind of religious 
mania, though on a rare occasion he showed a trace of his old 
inclination to waggery. He declared, for instance, that he 
had drawn the apostles who appeared to Catharina Emmerich 
in her visions exactly as she had described them to him ; 
but Bettina discovered that he had been unable to resist 
hanging round the apostle Paul's neck, in lieu of a scrip, 
a curious old tobacco pouch, which had belonged to himself 
in former days, and about which many funny stories were 
in circulation among his acquaintances. 

On his father's side Clemens Brentano was of Italian 
descent. His grandfather, a successful Frankfort merchant, 
was a native of Tremezzo on the Lake of Como. Through 
his mother he was descended from the authoress Sophie 
Laroche, Wieland's friend. 

In personal appearance he was the popular ideal poet, 
handsome, pale, and slight, with a confusion of curly black 
hair. He had a Southern complexion and sparkling, rest- 
less brown eyes shadowed by long lashes. His voice was 
deep and beautiful, and he was fond of singing his own 
songs, accompanying himself on the guitar. 

He was apprenticed to a merchant, but the experiment 
proved totally unsuccessful, and in 1797 he went to Jena, 
where he made the acquaintance of the most famous of the 
Romanticists, Fr. Schlegel, Steffens, and others. These 
friends often threatened to thrash him for his mad tricks 
and "not unfrequently malicious boasts and lies," and 
the threat was more than once actually carried out. But he 
could not refrain from offending ; it was impossible to him 
to restrain a caprice. While still quite young, he fell in love 
with a very gifted woman, Sophie Mereau, wife of one of the 
Jena professors. In the course of this love affair the couple 
had many wonderful adventures, some of which we find 
reproduced in his first book, Godtvi, or the Mother's Statue. 
When, in 1802, Fr. Tieck executed a marble bust of Brentano, 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 243 

Frau Mereau described the impression it produced on her 
in the following beautiful sonnet, inspired by genuine admira- 
tion and love : — 

" Welch siisses Bild erschuf der Kiinstler hier? 
Von welchem milden Himmelsstrich erzeuget ? 
Nennt keine Inschrift seinen Namen mir, 
Da diese todtc Lippe ewig schweiget ? 

Nach Hohem loht im Auge die Begier, 
Begeistrung auf die Stirne niedersteiget, 
Um die, nur von der schonen Locken Zier 
Geschmiicket, noch kein Lorbeerkranz sich beuget 

Ein Dichter ist es. Seine Lippen prangen 
Von Lieb* umwebt, mit wunderselgem Leben, 
Die Angen gab ihm sinnend die Romanze ! 

Und schalkhaft wohnt der Scherz auf seinen Wangen ; 
Den Namen wird der Ruhm ihm einstens geben, 
Das Haupt ihm schmiickend mit dem tarbeerkranze.'' l 

Happiness came to Brentano before fame. In 1803 he 
married Sophie Mereau, who had been divorced from her 
husband, and they lived most happily together till 1806, 
when she died in childbirth. 

In Heidelberg Brentano collaborated with Arnim in the 
publication of Des Knaben Wunderhorn and with Gorres in Die 
Geschichte des Uhrmachers BOGS (" Story of Bogs, the Watch- 
maker "). He had already published several works on his own 
account — Ponce de Leon, die lustigen Musikanten (" The Merry 
Musicians "), Chronika eines fahrenden SchUlers (" Chronicles 
of a Roving Student"). In Frankfort he became entangled 
in a love affair, which led to one of the many tragi-comic 
episodes in his life. He ran away with a young girl who 
had fallen violently in love with him, Auguste Busmann, a 
niece of the famous banker, Bethmann. They went to Cassel, 

1 "What beautiful image is this that the artist has created? Under what genial 
sky was this man born ? Is there do inscription to tell me his name, since these dead 
lips are dumb for ever ? The eye glows with noble desire ; enthusiasm shines from 
that fair brow, Surmounted only by clustering curls, not yet by the laurel wreath. 
He is a poet The wondrous smile of lore, of life, is on his lips ; romance dwells in 
these thoughtful eyes, drollery in the cheeks 9 roguish curves. Fame will ere long 
proclaim his name, and set the crown of laurel on his brow." 



244 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

where he married her. It is said that he tried to escape 
from her on the way to church, but that the energetic bride 
held him fast. A few days after the ceremony she threw 
her wedding-ring out of the window. One of her fancies 
was to dash through the town on horseback, the long plumes 
of her hat and the scarlet trappings of her horse floating in 
the wind. She plagued her husband in many ways. We 
are told that one of the worst tortures he had to endure 
was caused by her skill in beating a tattoo with her feet 
against the footboard of the bed, a performance invariably 
followed by a skilful pizzicato played with her toe-nails upon 
the sheet l This and other things grew so unendurable that 
he ran away. The valiant lady procured a divorce the same 
year, and was ere long married again. 

Brentano settled in Berlin, and was soon in great request 
in social circles there, on account of his powers of conversa- 
tion, his whimsicality, and his rocket-like sallies of wit. It 
was in Berlin that he wrote his fairy-tales and most of his 
Romanzen vom Rosenkranz (" Romances of the Rosary "). His 
play, The Founding of Prague, was written in Bohemia, where 
lay the family estate, Bukowan, of which the younger brother, 
Christian, took charge. After his return to Berlin in 1816, 
he wrote the famous tale, Geschichte vom braven Kasperl und 
der schtinen Nannerl ("Story of Brave Kasperl and Fair 
Nannerl "), also Die tnehreren WehmiiUer, and Die drei Nusse 
("The Three Nuts"). Then his conversion took place, and 
he no longer lived for literature. The profits of anything 
he wrote subsequently were devoted to charitable objects. 

Steffens remarks of Brentano that he is the only one of 
the Romanticists who seems to be thoroughly aware that he 
has no aim. He calls him an ironical, sportive Kronos, who 
fantastically demolishes every one of his definite utterances 
by means of its successor, in this manner devouring his own 
children. Still, as a lyric poet, a writer of fairy-tales, and 
a novelist, Brentano has produced works of art, few in 
number, but of permanent value. 

In his poetry there is something touching, simple, and 
caressingly sweet. He understands the art of condensing 

1 Godeke : Grundriss %ur Geschichte der deutsehen Dicktung % iii, Erste AbtlL, 31. 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 245 

an emotion, but he generally dilutes it again, and spoils 
his effect by repetitions, refrains, or the introduction of 
inarticulate sounds, such as "Ru, ku, ku, kuh," and the 
like. Almost all his poems contain single verses of great 
excellence, but almost all are too long. He has appro- 
priated the diffuseness of the Volkslied. He is distinctly 
original in such untranslatable verses as the following, taken 
from the Dichters Blumenstrauss (" Poet's Garland "). — 

" Ein verstimmend Fuhlgewachschen 
Ein Verlangen abgewandt, 
Ein erstarrend Zitterhexchen, 
Zuckenammchen, nie verbrannL 

Oflhes Rathsel, nie zu 16sen, 
Steter Wechsel, fest gewtihnt, 
Wesen, wie noch keins gewesen, 
Leicht verhdhnt und schwer verstihnt 



Auf dem Kehlchen wiegt das Ktipfchen, 
Blumengldckchen auf dem Stiel, 
Seelchen, selig Thauestrdpfchen, 
Das hinein vom Himmel fiel." 

The highly artificial style of this poem is very charac- 
teristic of Brentano. Both as lyric poet and story-teller 
he is artificial ; but his mannerism seldom gives the impres- 
sion of affectation, it only witnesses to the almost morbid 
sensibility of his temperament. 

In Der Spinnerin Lied we have a simple and touching 
expression of the pain of the long separation from Sophie 
Mereau. It begins: — 

" Es sang vor langen Jahren 
Wohl auch die Nachtigall, 
Das war wohl siisser Schall, 
Da wir zusammen waren. 

Ich sing und kann nicht weinen, 

Und spinne so allein 

Den Faden klar und rein, 

So lang der Mond wird scheinen. 

Da wir zusammen waren, 
Da sang die Nachtigall, 
Nun mahnet mich ihr Schall 
Dass du von mir gefahren. 



24$ THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

So oft der Mond mag scheinen 
Gedenk ich dein allein ; 
Mein Herz ist klar und rein, 
Gott wolle uns vereinen. ,, l 

It is right to give Brentano all honour as the creator, 
in his ballad "Loreley," of a figure which, under the 
treatment of other poets, notably Heine, has become so 
living, so truly popular, that one can hardly believe that 
it is not a genuine legendary figure. It is wrong to do 
what Griesebach and Scherer have done, namely, turn this 
praise into a depreciation of Heine's merits, credit him 
only with the greater literary dexterity, Brentano with the 
greater capacity of invention. It seems particularly unjust 
when we remember that Brentano's own finest lyrics are 
adaptations of popular songs. Read, for example, his 
beautiful Es ist ein Schnitter, der heissi Tod. The poem 
is to be found under the name Emtelied in Des Knaben 
Wunderhorn, and begins thus 2 — 

" Es ist ein Schnitter, der heisst Tod, 
Hat Gewalt vom hochsten Gott, 
Heut wetzt er das Messer, 
Es schneid't schon viel besser, 
Bald wird er drein schneiden, 
Wir mussen's nur leiden ; 
Hute dich, schon's Blumelein 1 " 

Brentano's lines are more polished :— 

" Es ist ein Schnitter, der heisst Tod, 
Er maht das Korn, wenn Gott^s gebot, 
Schon wetzt er die Sense, 
Dass schneidend sie glanze ; 
Bald wird er dich schneiden, 
Du musst es nur leiden ; 
Musst in den Erntekranz hinein ; 
Hute dich, schones Blumelein 1 " 

1 " Long years ago the nightingale sang as she sings now. How sweet it sounded ! 
We were together then. I sit alone and spin and sing, and cannot weep ; clean and 
strong I spin my thread, as long as the moon shines. The nightingale sang when 
we were together ; now she but reminds me that you have gone from me. It is of 
you alone that I think in the moonlight ; my heart is clean and strong as the thread 
I spin ; may God unite us again. " 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 247 

In their original form the following lines are not only 
simpler, but more beautiful than in Brentano's version : — 

u Viel hundert Tausend ungezahlt, 
Was nur unter die Sichel fallt, 
Ihr Rosen, Ihr Liljen, 
Euch wird er austilgen. 
Auch die Kaiserkronen 
Wird er nicht verschonen. 
Hiite dich, sch6nes Bliimelein I" 

Brentano's run thus : — 

" Viel hunderttausend ohne Zahl, 
Ihr sinket durch der Sense Strahl ; 
Wen 1 Rosen, wen* Lilien, 
Weh' krause Basilien ! 
Selbst euch Kaiserkronen 
Wird er nicht verschonen. 
Ihr miisst zum Erntekranz hinein. 
Hiite dich, sch6nes Bliimelein ! " 

He spins out the six verses of the old song to fourteen 
by the aid of a long list of flowers and plants ; we are out of 
breath before we get to the end of them. The volume of 
poems entitled Die Romanzen vom Rosenkranz (" Romances of 
the Rosary") is a romantic variation of the Faust legend, 
showing the evil of thirst for knowledge and pride of it. 
Faust himself is transformed into the Mephistophelian 
evil principle. In this work, as well as in "Loreley," 
Brentano prepares the way for Heinrich Heine. The 
romances are written in four-footed trochees, which in their 
cadence and whole character anticipate Heine's trochaic 
verse, especially in the droll juxtaposition of light, graceful 
lines and lines consisting of learned names, obscure legal 
matter, and scraps of mediaeval mystic jargon. 

As a prose writer, Brentano began, with his Godwi, in 
the style of Lucinde. The first part of the book assumes 
that true morality consists in allowing the sensual instincts 
free play, and immorality in repressing or ignoring them. 
With bacchantic wildness the heroine preaches the gospel 
of free love, and denounces marriage and every species of 



248 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

compulsory virtue. The second part, in genuine Romantic 
fashion, satirises the first part and the characters delineated 
in it. Godwi, the hero of the first volume, retires into the 
background, and the author himself, under the pseudonym 
Maria, takes his place. We learn that it was simply with 
the view of obtaining the hand of the daughter of one of 
the personages in the first part of the book, that the author 
managed to gain possession of the correspondence of which 
that first part consists. He had hoped by publishing it to 
attain this end. But, as the first volume is not approved of, 
he takes it to Godwi, the principal character, and begs him 
to tell what other love adventures he has had. The 
astounded Godwi reads his own story. Book in hand, he 
conducts the author round his garden, and says, pointing 
to a pond : "This is the pond into which I fall on page 266 
of the first volume." Thus in Godwi we have Romantic 
sensual licence in combination with Romantic irony and self- 
duplication. 

The revulsion from revolutionary ardour and passion 
was even more complete in Brentano's case than in Fr. 
Schlegel's ; it became positive renunciation of reason. And 
his conversion, like Zacharias Werner's, was of the species 
accompanied by a tearful conviction of sin. In his Sketch of 
the Life of Anna Catharina Emmerich he tells, without giving 
a thought to any possible physiological explanation of the 
fact, that her longing for the Holy Sacrament was so great, 
that often at night, feeling herself irresistibly drawn to it, 
she left her cell, and was found in the morning kneeling 
with outstretched arms outside the locked church door. It 
never occurred to him that her condition might be a morbid 
one, not even when she told him all the particulars of 
the appearance of the stigmata on her body as if the 
whole thing had happened to another nun of the neigh- 
bourhood. 

But during the middle period of his literary career, Bren- 
tano produced some prose works which are of more than 
merely historical literary interest ; for example, the fairy-tale, 
Gockel, Hinkel } und Gackeleia, which he first wrote in a pithy, 
condensed form, but at a later period diluted with holy water 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 249 

and greatly expanded. This tale gives us an idea of the 
inexhaustible supply of amusing and grotesque conceits to 
which his conversation doubtless owed its great charm. In it 
Brentano reveals himself as a master of the prose which, while 
playing with words and ideas and connecting things which 
have not the remotest connection, nevertheless dexterously 
refrains from mixing metaphors, and never breaks the link 
in the chain of ideas. It may be a perfect trifle, some 
accidental reminiscence (Brentano's remembering, for in- 
stance, that in his childhood he had heard Goethe's mother 
say : " Dies ist keine Puppe, sondern nur eine schOne Kunst- 
figur "), which sets him weaving the chain. But with the 
inexorable artistic severity of a contrapuntist, he holds to his 
fugitive motive throughout the whole length of his com- 
position, varying and enriching it. As a specimen of this 
style, take the following paragraph from Gockel, Hinkel, und 
Gackeleia, that tale in which, throughout several hundred 
pages, words and ideas undergo a transformation which fits 
them for their place in the hen-world : — 

il Die Franzosen haben das Schloss so iibel mitgenom- 
men, dass sie es recht abscheulich zuruckliessen. Ihr Konig 
Hahnri hatte gesagt, jeder Franzose solle Sonntags ein Huhn, 
und wenn keins zu haben sei, ein Hinkel in den Topf stecken 
und sich eine Suppe kochen. Darauf hielten sie streng, und 
sahen sich uberall um, wie jeder zu seinem Huhn kommen 
kdnne. Als sie nun zu Haus mit den Huhnern fertig waren, 
machten sie nicht viel Federlesens und hatten bald mit 
diesem, bald mit jenem Nachbarn ein Huhnchen zu pfliicken. 
Sie sahen die Landkarte wie einen Speisezettel an ; wo etwas 
von Henne, Huhn oder Hahn stand, das strichen sie mit 
rother Tinte an und giengen mit Kuchenmesser und Brat- 
spiess darauf los. So giengen sie uber den Hanebach, 
steckten Gross- und Kleinhuningen in den Topf, und 
dann kamen bis in das Hanauer Land. Als sie nun Gockels- 
ruh, das herrliche Schloss der Raugrafen von Hanau, 
im Walde fanden, statuirten sie ein Exempel, schnitten 
alien Huhnern die Halse ab, steckten sie in den Topf und 
den rothen Hahn auf das Dach, das heisst, sie machten 
ein so gutes Feuerchen unter den Topf, dass die lichte 



2 so THE ROMANTIC Scrr 




Lohe zum Dach herausscli*^.^ 
verbrannte. Dann giengen ^ _^ 
Hunhaun." 

This fairy-tale style, with 
upon words, almost reminds u.. 
the young men in some of SI. 
to their overflowing humour. 

Much graver, if not less > ,. ^ 

Brentano's most famous story, ( 
und dem schdnen Annerl ("The St 
Fair Annerl"). 

The subject is taken from Dc 
the second volume of the collect i 
a short ballad, Weltlich Recht (" Ear 
the tale of the execution of Fair N 
and go to her child : — 

" Der Fahndrich kam geritten und schwt 

* Halt still mit der schtinen Nanerl, ich 

" * Fahndrich, lieber Fahndrich, sie ist ja 

* Gute nacht, meine schone Nanerl, dei: 

In Brentano's version the whole stu 
on a long summer evening, by a poor 
eight, the beautiful Annerl or Nanerl 
has been so successful in reproducing l 
very superstitious woman's language, i 
her before us all the time. With consu 
ages to keep the reader in constant sub 1 
manner in which she tells her story, hui 
then turning back to catch up the thread ^ 
are never told enough during the course u 
give us a clear understanding of the whole L 
but always enough to keep up our interest an 
to know the answer of the riddle, to get a 
of the story-teller's mysterious hints. Seld 

1 "The ensign came riding, his white flag he wavi 
1 Stop 1 here is the pardon — fair Nanerl is save u 

* O ensign, good ensign, fair Nanerl is dead.' 

* Thy soul is with God ! Good night, Nanerl ! ' 1 



ARNIM AND BRENTANO 251 

concealing a series of incidents from the reader been raised 
so skilfully, one by one. 

Another of the merits of the tale is the vigour with which 
its main idea, honour (the true and the false sense of honour, 
the shame of wounded pride and the real shame and infamy 
to which ambition may lead), is presented to us and developed 
in the actions and experiences of the two principal characters. 
Kasperl, the brave Uhlan, whose sense of honour is so keen 
that it amounts to sentimental weakness, is driven to despair 
by the dishonourable conduct of his father and stepbrother. 
He commits suicide, and is thereby saved the anguish of 
knowing the fate of his sweetheart, fair Annerl. Annerl's 
whole life has been controlled by a cruel fate. The poet, in 
his gloomy superstition, has taken real pleasure in driving 
her onwards to calamity and death with the irresistible, mys- 
terious power of predestination. Annerl's mother in her day 
had loved a huntsman. This huntsman is to be executed for 
murder. When the child comes near the executioner, his 
sword trembles in its scabbard — an unmistakable sign that 
it thirsts for her blood. The huntsman's head, when it is 
cut off, flies towards her, and the teeth grip her frock. 
Of the power that draws her on to wrong-doing and 
misfortune we are constantly told : " It drew her with its 
teeth " (" Es hat sie mit den Zahnen dazu gerissen "). Ambi- 
tion leads to disgrace ; Annerl is seduced by a young officer 
under a false promise of marriage ; in her anguish and mad- 
ness she strangles her new-born child, then gives herself up 
to justice and pays the penalty of her crime with her young 
life — her seducer, the ensign, arriving too late with a pardon. 

This epitome of the tale shows to what extent Brentano, 
in this particular case, has done homage to the doctrines of 
Romanticism. Supernatural warnings play an important 
part. The career of the heroine is regarded from the stand- 
point of Oriental fatalism ; but at the same time, and with- 
out any attempt to smooth away the contradiction, we have 
the genuinely Catholic persuasion tha being punished, 

the sin committed by the chief cha* 
human principle of honour above 
heavenly grace. Nevertb 

VOL. II. 




252 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

style and a genuine popular ring. The spirit of the popular 
ballad from which its theme is borrowed hovers over it 
And, what is still more worthy of note, it is in so far an 
epoch-making work in German literature, that, long before 
the appearance of Immermann's Der Oberhof, it heralds the 
age of the peasant-story, striking in its naive if somewhat 
artificial style the chord of which we hear the echo so long 
afterwards in Auerbach and others. 



XV 
MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 

There is one form of literature in which men and women 
are, for the most part, portrayed as essentially intellectual 
beings, endowed with freedom of will and action. That 
form is the drama. In lyric poetry emotion reigns ; in epic 
the character is partly lost sight of in the broad painting of 
the circumstances and powers which determine it ; but the 
subject of the drama is action; and because the human 
character, acting and willing, is in itself something abso- 
lutely definite, it compels the author to give clear, well- 
defined form to his production. The drama demands lucidity 
and intellect ; in it, where there is a reason for everything, 
the forces of nature must be either the servants or the 
masters of the mind ; but, above all, they must be compre- 
hended ; they cannot appear as dark, mysterious despots, 
who are not expected to give any explanation of their nature 
or business. Tieck's two Romantic dramas, the tragedy, 
Leben und Tod der heiligen Genoveva (" Life and Death of St. 
Genevieve "), and the ten act comedy, Kaiser Octavianus, are 
really only dramas in name. His admiration of Shake- 
speare's Pericles and Winters Tale and Calderon's lyrical and 
musical interludes betrayed him into a lyric-epic formless- 
ness unequalled in the history of literature. It would be 
difficult to find dramatic works more destitute of plan and 
style. All their author's care is lavished upon what he calls 
the " climate " of events, their atmosphere and fragrance, 
tone and colour, the mood they inspire, the shadow they 
cast, the light in which they are seen, which is invariably 
that of the moon. His medieval characters are possessed 
by the spirit which the study of old legends has induced in 
himself. It was a kind of religious impression which im- 

•13 



254 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

parted this tendency to his productivity. Schleiermacher's 
Reden iiber Religion (" Lectures on Religion ") had had a pro- 
found influence on him. He had begun to read Jakob 
Bohme's MorgenrOthe (" Dawn "), expecting to find it a perfect 
mine of absurdities, and from a scoffer had turned into 
an enthusiastic disciple. It was about this time, too, that 
he met Novalis and fell under his influence. 

Nevertheless, if we read Genaveva observantly, we soon 
find what Tieck himself admits, that its religion, the pious 
emotion which was intended to give it artistic unity, is no 
more than the Romantic longing for religion. Many traces 
of this longing are to be found in the play. The old days, 
the days of faith, are represented as sighing, like Tieck's 
own, for still older, far more believing days ; their religion, 
too, is but a longing for religion. Golo says to Sir Wolf, 
who to him represents the good old times : " How could 
I dream of jeering at thy childlike spirit ! " Genoveva looks 
back to the past ; like Tieck himself, she spends her time 
reading old legends. She says, with a touch of genuine 
Romanticism : — 

" Drum ist es nicht so Andacht, die mich treibt, 
Wie inn'ge Liebe zu den alten Zeiten, 
Die Running, die mich fesselt, dass wir jetzt 
So wenig jenen grossen Glaub'gen gleichen." * 

The principal masculine character in the play, the 
whimpering, whining villain Golo, is William Lovell over 
again, and William not in the least improved by being 
dressed up as a dramatic figure in a medieval tragedy. 

Octavianus, the allegorical style of which has been 
strongly influenced by Heinrich von Ofierdingen, is, if possible, 
still more shapeless and incoherent than Genoveva. It strikes 
one as resembling nothing so much as a splendid collection 
of samples of all kinds of metres, those of Southern as well 
as of Northern Europe, and is in reality simply a fatiguing 
succession of carefully elaborated descriptions of impressions 
produced, moods inspired, by nature. 

1 <( It is not, then, so much religion that influences me, as strong affection for the 
olden times, and grief that we of to-day are so unlike those heroes of the faith." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 255 

In the introduction to Phantasus, Tieck has himself de- 
scribed how all definite impressions of the surrounding world 
blend in his mind into a sort of mystic pantheism : — 

" Was ich fiir Grott* und Berg gehalten, 
Fur Wald und Flur und Felsgestalten, 
Das war ein einzigs grosses Haupt, 
Start Haar und Bart mit Wald umlaubt 
Still lachelt er, dass seine Kind' 
In Spielen gliicklich vor ihm sind 
Er winkt und ahndungsvolles Brausen 
Wogt her in Waldes heil'gem Sausen. 
Da fiel ich auf die Kniee nieder 
Mir zitterten in Angst die Glieder. 
Ich sprach zum Kleinen nur das Wort : 
Sag an, was ist das Grosse dort ? 
Der Kleine sprach : Dich fasst sein Graun, 
Weil Du ihn darfst so plotzlich schaun, 
Das ist der Vater, unser Alter, 
Heisst Pan, von Allem der Erhalter." l 

And Tieck looked at and apprehended human nature 
exactly as he looked at and apprehended forest and moun- 
tain. In describing it, too, he drowns all definiteness 
and character in the flood of mystic pantheism. And this 
mystic pantheism in his plays paves the way for the Chris- 
tian mysticism distinguishing the Romantic drama. 

Arnim and Brentano are hardly to be taken into account 
as dramatists. The latter, in his mad comedy, Ponce de Leon, 
the dialogue of which is loaded with wearisome play upon 
words, is the would-be disciple of Shakespeare, who has only 
succeeded in imitating the affectations of the master's youthful 
style. In his great Romantic drama, Die Grundung Prags 
(" The Founding of Prague"), he gives us sorcery and miracles, 
visions and prophecies, magic rings and curses, instead of 
real human beings and real action ; the course of events is 
indicated by strange forebodings and unerring second-sight. 

1 " What I had taken to be ravine and mountain, wood, meadow, and cliff; was one 
great head, the forest its hair and beard. The giant smiles to see his children happy 
at their play. He beckons, and straightway through the forest is heard a rustle of 
holy awe. I fell upon my knees, trembling with fear. I whispered to the little 
child : * What is that great being yonder ? ' The child replied : ' The fear of him 
comes upon thee because thou bast been permitted to see him without warning \ 
that is our father, our preserver \ his name is Pan/ " 



256 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

There is some resemblance between the manner in 
which Brentano has dramatised Slavonic legend in this play, 
and the Polish Romanticist Slowacki's treatment (in Ulla 
Weneda, for instance) of similar themes. Both, out of 
crude myths and traditions, have produced pictures of 
Slavonic heathendom which display a certain gift of in- 
tuition. The fact is that the Romantic authors of all 
lands had a keener sense for religious mysticism than for 
dramatic truth and effect. This play of Brentano's is actually 
declared to have influenced the mythological theories of his 
contemporaries, the brothers Grimm. 

Arnim's Halle und Jerusalem, the " tragedy in two come- 
dies," as he himself styled it, in which the legend of the 
Wandering Jew is interwoven with the story of Cardenio and 
Celinde, is one of the most intolerable productions of Ger- 
man Romanticism. It is a reading-drama of four hundred 
large octavo pages, which begins as a wild student's comedy 
in Halle, and develops into a pilgrim-mystery in Jerusalem. 
It turns upon the medieval idea of the Holy Sepulchre being 
the centre of the world ; and it ends with an apparition of 
three crosses of fire above the graves of the three principal 
characters. 

In one of the scenes Celinde attempts in the dead of 
night to cut the heart out of her dead lover's breast, that 
with its assistance she may perform certain magic rites which 
will ensure her possession of the heart of her living lover. 
The dead man, the blood pouring from his breast, rises out 
of his coffin, and complains of her treatment in such verse 
as: — 

" Geliebte, du durchbohrst mein Hen, 
Das ist bittrer als der Hdlle Schmen." l 

Immediately after this, the sexton unmasks himself, reveals 
himself as the devil, and carries off Celinde's wicked mother 
to be his bride. 

In another scene Celinde is supposed to be about to give 
birth to a child in a mountain cavern. A stork appears on 
the stage carrying a child in its beak, and flies into the 

1 " Beloved, thou hast pierced my heart, 

Oh, bitterer this than hell's worst smart ! " 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 257 

cavern. Then come a whole flight of storks, which direct 
their course southwards, singing : — 

" Hast du schwer am Kind getragen, 
Musst sie mit den Fliigeln schlagen, 
Hast du miissen lange rciscn, 
Musst sie mit dem Schnabel beissen," &C 1 

The child is born dead, and the wretched mother is in de- 
spair. This fact also is communicated to us by a stork :— 

a In meiner Wut, 
In der Reiseglut, 
Hab ich das Kind erdriickt," &c, &c. s 

Immediately on the head of this follow would-be pathetic, 
but in reality revoltingly horrible scenes, like the one entitled 
" The Temptation in the Desert," in which Ahasuerus, the 
Wandering Jew, who is starving, struggles against the temp- 
tation to eat a little boy, who has been saved along with 
himself from shipwreck. Ahasuerus says : " How terrible is 
my desire for his flesh ! I already feel the juicy morsel roll- 
ing between tongue and palate. . . ." He is on the point 
of committing the crime, when the child cries : u Father I 
father ! " on which the old man hastily absorbs himself in 
his book. 

Almost at the end of the play, in the middle of a re- 
ligious service held by the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, 
an attack is suddenly made upon those Romanticists whose 
piety is not sincere. A traveller says : " I will deliver the 
Holy Sepulchre out of the hands of the Turks." One of the 
author's favourite characters retorts : " Do it first, and then 
speak of it." Hereupon follows this incredibly undramatic 
parenthesis : " The traveller turns away ashamed ; he goes 
out into the wide world and pleads the cause of Christianity 
in thousands of words ; but his words have not the 

1 " The child, a heavy weight, you have borne ; 
Flap your wings at the mother, all forlorn ; 
A weary way yon have had to bear it, 
Catch hold of her cheek with your bill, and tear it," &&, &c. 
9 " In my irritation, 

In the journey's agitation, 
I crushed the child," &&, Ac. 



258 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

power of eternal life, for his is love without deeds. From 
him are descended all the new, poetic Christians, those, / 
mean, who are only Christians in their poems." When it 
comes the length of the author's " I " appearing in a paren- 
thesis in the middle of a play, we may regard dramatic 
form as practically non-existent. Even Tieck and Hoffmann 
never went as far as this. 

German Romanticism produced only two real dramatists 
— Zacharias Werner and Heinrich von Kleist. Of these, the 
latter is incomparably the greater ; indeed his poetic gifts 
are so great that one may unhesitatingly assign him the 
highest place among all the poets of his school. He has a 
clearer, more plastic style than any of them, and pathos such 
as we do not find even in Goethe. His finest works are 
full of soul, heart, and burning passion, and yet the style 
is simple and lucid. Kleist is Germany's M£rim6e ; and a 
study of his characteristics will show us what the German 
Romantic tendency could make of a M6rim6e. We shall 
see how the clearness, the definiteness, which was the 
natural quality of his genius, was disturbed and deranged 
by the poetical insanity of Romanticism. 

Thirty steps from the Wannsee, a little lake near Berlin, 
and fifty from the wayside inn, stands a gravestone bear- 
ing the inscription : " Heinrich von Kleist." 

Upon this spot, on the 20th of November, 1 811, at the 
age of thirty-four, the greatest German poet of the younger 
generation of that day, shot, with unerring aim, first the 
woman he loved and then himself. It was long believed 
that the two were united simply by a calm, reasonable friend- 
ship. But when, in 1873, their correspondence was pub- 
lished, its unhealthy passion made it evident that there was 
extravagantly strong feeling on both sides, and that the 
reason of both was undermined. Kleist addresses his friend, 
Frau Henriette Vogel, in such terms as these : " My Jette, 
my all, my castle, land, meadows, and vineyards, sun of my 
life, my wedding, baptism of my children, my tragedy, my 
fame, my guardian angel, my cherub and seraph ! " and 
she replies : " My defence, my guard, my sword, my spear, 
my buckler, my shield," &c. 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 259 

Heinrich von Kleist was of noble birth, the scion of an 
old Prussian military family, which in the eighteenth century 
had already produced a poet. Heinrich had been through 
one campaign, as a young ensign, when military life became 
distasteful to him, and a dim consciousness of his unusual 
powers impelled him to turn to study. In 1799 he matricu- 
lated at the university of his native town, Frankfort-on-the 
Oder, and was soon working hard at philosophy, mathematics, 
and classics, living, in spite of his youth, a very sober life, 
entirely occupied with his own ardent introspective thoughts. 
In an awkward, pedantic way he attempted to educate 
his sister, and to cultivate the mind of his fiancte, so 
that she might really understand him. In the course of a 
year he left Frankfort to pursue his studies in Berlin. He 
early developed a fatal inclination to stake everything on one 
card. His biographer, Wilbrandt, has aptly compared his 
character to Werther's. He had Werther's gloomy dissatis- 
faction and cynical reserve, his vivid imagination, his habit 
of brooding and reasoning, and of dwelling upon everything 
painful, his overpowering outbursts of emotion. 

It was clear to Kleist himself that his was the poet's voca- 
tion long before he dared confide the thought to his friends ; 
he left them, he isolated himself, until he was certain of his 
powers. When for the first time he felt the plan of a work 
taking shape in his mind, it seemed to him as though 
"something like earthly happiness" were smilingly beckon- 
ing him on. Impetuous and audacious, he expected to 
produce a masterpiece at once. The immature beginner's 
attempt was unsuccessful. When, a year later, he planned 
Robert Guiscard, the tragedy which occupied his thoughts 
throughout the rest of his youth, it was with the distinct 
intention of surpassing the classical works of Goethe and 
Schiller "by the aid of a new art principle." In his art 
-^Eschylus and Shakespeare, the best qualities of antiquity 
and the Renaissance, were to be fused together, the cult 
of the beautiful was to be combined with truth to nature, 
and irreproachable style with the extreme of tragic 
horror. 

His powers were as yet inadequate to the task of pro- 



260 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

ducing a complete work, and he was obliged to lay the 
tragedy aside. 

In the discouragement produced by the failure of this 
attempt he turned to philosophy. His desire was to find, 
not truths, but the truth. With the naive confidence of 
the self-taught man he expected to discover at once the full, 
perfect truth which would guide him both in life and death. 

It was the philosophy of Kant which he set himself 
to study, and the impression it made upon him was dis- 
tinctly depressing. He had expected to find a religion in 
philosophy, and Kant's Theory of Cognition taught him 
that we cannot attain to the truth, can never know what 
things are in themselves, but only see them as our own 
organs show them to us — that is to say, he who has green 
spectacles sees things green, and he who has red, sees them 
red. When he recognised that knowledge of the truth, as 
he had represented it to himself, was not possible, it seemed 
to the young man as if his highest, his only aim were gone. 

In this state of spiritual disorganisation he, like other 
Romanticists, felt the inclination to seek the support of 
a system of dogmas, either that of orthodox Protestantism 
or that of the older and more authoritative Catholic Church. 
He writes from Dresden : " Nothing could have been better 
calculated to entice me away from the melancholy domain of 
science than the treasures of art collected in this town. . . . 
But nowhere did I feel so deeply moved as in the Catholic 
church, where the most sublime music leagues itself with 
the other arts to touch the heart. Our divine service is 
nothing at all in comparison ; it only appeals to cold 
reason, but a Catholic festival appeals to all the senses. 
. . . Oh, for one drop of forgetfulness ! then I should with 
joy become a Catholic." 

Though he overcomes these fancies, he is unable to force 
himself to work, now that he has made the discovery that 
truth is not to be found upon earth. To put an end to this 
painful aimlessness, he determines, though with no par- 
ticular object in view, to go to Paris. His letters from Paris 
show how fruitless this new attempt at discovering his real 
vocation in life proved. He breaks off his engagement, 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 261 

because his fiande will not blindly and obediently follow 
him to Switzerland, there to live the life of a peasant's wife. 
His pride will not permit him to return to his native town 
before he has accomplished something in the way of fulfil- 
ment of his ambitious projects. He goes to Weimar with 
the intention of completing Robert Guiscard there, is much 
in Wieland's society, and finally takes up his abode in his 
house. The old man's goodness and his daughter's quiet 
tenderness keep him there, but he remains reserved and ab- 
sent-minded. At last he confesses to the lovable, sympathetic 
old poet that he is at work upon a tragedy, but that his ideal 
is so high that he has as yet found it impossible to transfer 
his conception to paper. 

One afternoon Wieland, taking advantage of a favour- 
able opportunity, persuaded his guest to repeat some frag- 
ments of the principal scenes from memory. The old 
poet's admiration knew no bounds; he asserted that if it were 
possible for the spirits of ^Eschylus, Sophocles, and Shake- 
speare to combine in creating a tragedy, it would be such a 
tragedy as Robert Guiscard, provided that the whole fulfilled 
the promise of the parts he had heard. 

Kleist's joy was great, but short-lived. Circumstances 
soon unsettled him again. He went first to Leipzig, then 
to Dresden. It was in Dresden, to a girl who was in distress 
because of the supposed indifference of her lover, that he 
first made the proposal (a proposal which he afterwards often 
repeated to friends of both sexes), that he should take a 
pistol and shoot her and himself. Not long afterwards he 
made a similar offer to his faithful friend, Von Pfuel. Pfuel 
came to the conclusion that travel would be the best thing 
possible for Kleist and his tragedy. Kleist caught eagerly 
at the idea. Shortly before he started for Switzerland he 
received a letter from Wieland which gave him fresh courage, 
and was for a long time his greatest comfort. Wieland wrote 
that it was impossible to him to believe that any external 
hindrance could prevent the completion of Kleist's master- 
piece: "To the Holy Muse who inspires you nothing is 
impossible. You must complete your Guiscard; yes, even 
if the whole Caucasus were weighing you down." 



262 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

During his travels in Switzerland and Northern Italy, 
which occupied the summer and autumn of 1803, Kleist 
wrote nothing. Despairing of the sufficiency of his powers, 
coming to the conclusion tflat he possessed only a " half 
talent," he temporarily gave up all idea of literary work. 
All the time tormented by thoughts of death, he travelled by 
Lyons to Paris. There he burned Guiscard and all his 
papers, and determined to enter the army of France (a 
nation he hated) and take part in the great expedition 
preparing at Boulogne, in the confident hope that the 
undertaking would fail, and that he and the whole army 
would find graves in England. He tried to enlist as a 
common soldier, but was refused. An acquaintance whom 
he accidentally met, put him in a position to return to 
Germany, where, after many mishaps and disappointments, 
he obtained a small official appointment at Konigsberg. 

Kleist had announced his intention of competing with 
Goethe. " I will tear the wreath from his brow/' was early 
the burden of his confidences and his dreams. It sounds 
like the utterance of a madman. And yet, when we read 
the one fragment that remains to us of the never-com- 
pleted drama, Guiscard, we are filled with astonishment. It 
was as little within the power of this work as of any other to 
remove the crown of honour from the brow of the genius 
whose spirit dominates two centuries ; but the fact remains 
that the fragment of it which we possess stands on a level 
with much of the best produced by Goethe. 

Kleist has drawn on his imagination for the picture of a 
great man, a great leader ; and he at once successfully im- 
presses us with his hero's greatness by showing how much 
depends upon him, upon his life, how thousands upon thou- 
sands look up to him as their ruler and only saviour. 

The great adventurer, Robert Guiscard, son of Tancred 
de Hauteville, is lying with his army before Constantinople, 
which city he has vowed to take and keep. But fate is 
against him ; the plague has broken out in his camp and 
is committing terrible ravages. 

Kleist himself had encountered just such overwhelming 
misfortune on the path of victory which his imagination had 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 263 

painted ; and his delineation of a hero struggling against 
an overpowering destiny which he has long borne con- 
sciously within himself is grand. For Guiscard himself 
is plague-stricken ; the mortal sickness is raging in his 
intestines ; its poison is consuming his very bones. He 
who till now has been everywhere victorious, the con- 
queror of Southern Italy, of Rome, of Venice, and of 
Greece, knows, feels, that his end is at hand. A crowd 
of Normans are besieging his tent, calling on him to lead 
the army away from this terrible camping-ground, where 
they feel the poisonous breath of the plague blowing in 
their faces. A rumour that he is ill has already begun to 
spread, but as yet the truth is not to be divulged ; Guiscard 
is too proud to let any one know what he is suffering. 

His tent is thrown open, and the man in whose breast a 
consuming fire is burning, whose throat is parched with 
unquenchable thirst, and whose hand is so weak- that all 
through the night he has not been able to lift it, steps forth 
erect and proud, and shows himself to the crowd. So strong 
and gay and masterful does he seem, that even those who 
before were certain of the worst, no longer know what to 
believe. 

And there is profound meaning as well as grandeur in this 
conception of Kleist's. This Guiscard, who stands there 
erect and unflinching while mortal disease is gnawing at his 
vitals, who is he but Kleist himself, his whole unhappy life 
long ? He himself is the great genius whose plans are 
foiled by the pestilence without and within him. 

Kleist soon resigned his Government appointment and 
returned to the calling of literature. It is most interesting 
to observe the dramatic characters now produced by a man 
in reality full of productive energy. Our study of the psycho- 
logical peculiarities and doctrines of the Romanticists has 
shown us how their predilection for disintegrating person- 
ality led them to lay special weight upon all that has a 
disintegrating effect — dreams, hallucinations, and madness. 
What distinguishes Kleist's characters from those of the other 
Romanticists is that there is nothing blurred and* about 

them ; the essential quality which his and theirs 1 1* 



264 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

mon is morbidity. In every passion Kleist seizes upon that 
feature which betrays kinship with the fixed idea or with 
helpless insanity ; he probes every mind, however sound, till 
v < he finds the diseased point where it loses control over itself 
• — somnambulistic tendency, overpowering animal appetites, 
absent-mindedness, cowardice in the face of death. Take 
such a passion as love ; it is certainly not of a rational 
nature, but it has a side from which it may be seen to be 
connected with reason and intellect. Kleist almost invari- 
ably, and with admirable skill, depicts it as of the nature of 
disease, as mania. 

When Kathchen of Heilbronn sees Count Walter von 
Strahl for the first time, she drops everything she is carrying, 
food, wine, and glasses, and, pale as death, with folded hands, 
falls at his feet as if she had been struck by lightning. 
The Count speaks a friendly word to her. Presently, from 
her window, she sees him mounting his horse to ride away. 
In her haste to follow him, she jumps from the window, 
thirty feet high, on to the street, and breaks both her legs. 
Barely recovered from six weeks' fever, she rises from her 
bed, collects a small bundle of belongings, and deserts her 
home to seek the Count and follow him in blind devotion 
from place to place, led "by the rays which shine from 
his face and twine themselves round her heart like a five- 
stranded cord." She wanders after him, her bare feet 
bleeding on the stony roads, her scanty skirt fluttering in the 
wind, a straw hat her only protection against the heat of the 
sun and the pelting of the rain. Through mountain mists, 
across desert tracts scorched by the sun, through the 
darkness of thick forests, she follows, like a dog on its 
master's track ; and she, who had been accustomed to lay 
her head on soft pillows, disturbed by each little knot spun 
inadvertently by herself into the thread of the sheets, now, 
when night comes, sleeps in the Count's stables like the 
meanest servant, sinking exhausted upon the straw spread 
for his horses. 

There is the ring of truth in this description, given 
by her father, of the young girl's flight. The Count, 
who knows that he is in no way to blame, tries every 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 265 

method of alienating her. Coming upon her in his stable 
one night, he thrusts her aside with his foot, and more than 
once he threatens her with his dog- whip. He allows her to 
sacrifice herself for his bride, who orders her to rush into a 
burning house to save his miniature, and when she has 
brought it, sends her back again for the case. With joy and 
deep humility she does and bears all. The more refined, 
but weaker, representation of an overpowering, unrequited 
passion given us by Henrik Hertz in The House of Svend 
Dyring is modelled upon Kleist's Kathchen. Side by side with 
much that is ridiculous and repulsive, Kathchen von Heilbronn 
contains much that is really grand. It is plain enough that 
this passion, which comes on as suddenly as a fit of apo- 
plexy — which, moreover, as a fixed idea, destroys every other 
idea, and, itself a miracle, performs miracles with the aid of 
an angel — oversteps the bounds of the natural and the healthy. \/ 
Yet there is something fine in it. It gave intense satisfaction 
to Kleist, who had such a rooted aversion for mere phrases, 
to represent a loving woman, in whom everything was truth 
and reality which in other women is mere words. It was 
thus that he himself had desired to be loved by his 
Wilhelmine ; and at a later period he had demanded such 
excessive devotion from a young girl whose acquaintance he v 
had made at the Korners' house in Dresden, and who had 
become attached to him, that all relations between them 
were broken off. Now he had taken refuge with his ideal 
in poetry. 

There is something satisfying and pleasing in the 
realisation of the well-known phrases: To see and love 
was one and the same thing — to follow the beloved to the 
ends of the earth — to be more devoted to him than his dog 
— to go through fire and water for him. But yet all this 
properly belongs to the domain of pathology; these are 
morbid manifestations. Then, too, we have the Romantic 
reason of it all. Kathchen's violent agitation when she sees 
the Count is explained by the fact of his having pre- 
viously appeared to her in a dream. At the moment 
when she sees him in this dream, the Count is in reality 
lying dangerously ill with typhus fever. Stretched like a 



266 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

corpse on his bed, he himself has the feeling that he is enter- 
ing Kathchen's room. And when he hears of the strange 
coincidence, he cannot help exclaiming anxiously — 

" Help me, ye gods ! Now am I double ! 
A spirit I, who wander in the night" 

Here we have the favourite idea of Romanticism, "Dop- 
pelgangerei," in close connection with somnambulism. 
Somnambulism plays a similar part in Der Prinz von 
%/ Homburg, the finest of Kleist's dramas — probably the finest 
drama produced by the Romantic School. In it all the im- 
portant characters stand out as if hewn in stone. The 
dialogue is vigorous and clear ; every word tells. The 
young cavalry leader commits an unpardonable breach of 
discipline ; he is victorious in an engagement which he has 
brought about in a manner forbidden in his instructions. 
The Elector condemns him to death. Not for a moment 
imagining that the sentence will be carried out, the young 
hero treats it as a mere matter of form. When it dawns 
upon him that it is sober earnest, a sudden fear of death 
takes possession of him, and he abjectly begs for his life. 
Kleist's genius shows itself in the delineation of the 
mental process by which the Prince becomes himself 
• again, and demands death as his right. Here once more 
it is the night side of the mind to which attention is drawn. 
The Prince is nervous , JU, and absent-mindfijj. In the first 
act he walks in his sleep." In theTafet we nave the realisation 
of one of his visions. He transgresses orders, not, like the 
son of Manlius Torquatus, in youthful audacity and martial 
ardour, but because, in his nervous, dreamy absent-minded- 
ness he has not heard the orders given, and consequently 
dashes recklessly on. 

Kleist had been deeply interested by G. H. von 
Schubert's Die Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft ("The Night 
Side of the Science of Nature "). This book, written by the 
most popular " Naturphilosoph " of the day, is one of the most 
extravagant works of the whole period. The night side of 
a planet is that which is turned away from the sun, and only 
glimmers faintly in the darkness, with a light destitute of 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 267 

warmth, a light in which all objects look strange, and 
totally different from what they do in the light of the sun. 
Schubert considers that he succeeds, in his " Science of 
Nature," in demonstrating the existence of such a night 
side. The first half of the work is " Naturphilosophie," 
much as Steffens understood it. "This is certainly not 
philosophy for the world," says the author, " but it is much 
older than the world and all its philosophies, and will last 
much longer." Most of it is on the same lines as the 
so-called occult sciences of to-day. Man, like the nature 
which surrounds him, is a "prophetic hieroglyph." In 
animal magnetism, in somnambulism, in presentiment, and 
in so-called prescience, proofs are sought of a predestined 
harmony between the life of the individual and that of the 
whole. 

According to Schubert's theory, man originally had 
the power of working miracles. Sin bereft him of his 
power over nature, and after this there was always some- 
thing dark and daemonic connected with the miracle-work- 
ing gift — with the oracles of Greece, for instance, and 
with all heathen sorcery. The old, natural miraculous 
power was revived in Christ. In its daemonic form it has 
reappeared among the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons (the 
secret societies which played so important a part in the 
imagination of Schuberfs day); and it is also observable 
in such phenomena as animal magnetism, clairvoyance, &c. 
Adam Muller writes: "Schubert's book seems to me the 
best which the ' Naturphilosophie ' has produced ; its 
author, though not superior to Schelling in polemical and 
critical talent, is certainly his superior in feeling, in sincerity, 
and above all in erudition. ... In Schubert's writings I 
find a glorified, yet in all essentials accurate presentment of 
an earlier stage of my development, when my one longing 
was, that all that was human and personal in my power of 
achievement might, as it were, dissolve into the smoke of 
a sweet incense, an offering to the God I worshipped. How 
I longed to be able to divest myself of name and per- 
sonality, and become the most devoted of martyrs or the 
most priestly of priests " (der geistlichste Geistliche). 

VOL. 11. s 



268 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Every one read the book, and even a mind like 
Kleist's allowed itself, as we have seen, to be engrossed by 
all this pretentious foolishness. Mysticism was the order of 
the day, and it is curious to see how the mystic element, 
the strange trinity of sensuality, religion, and cruelty, insinu- 
ates itself into all Kleist's dramas. Take, for example, that 
remarkable tragedy, Penthesilea. The heroine is the wild 
queen of the Amazons, who is waging a victorious war upon 
both the Greeks and the Trojans. It is a law among the 
Amazons that each must capture in battle the man who is to 
be her husband ; then, when the war is over, she lives with him 
in peace and happiness. Penthesilea has conceived quite 
as fatal a passion for Achilles as Kathchen's for Count 
Strahl. But in Penthesilea love shows itself in a different 
way ; it takes the form of cruelty. In every battle she 
pursues Achilles, thirsting for his blood. If Kathchen 
loved like a dog, Penthesilea loves like a tigress escaped 
from a Bacchanalian procession. 

It is plain that it is his own temperament with which 
Kleist has endowed the Amazon queen. She cares for 
nothing, will take nothing, but Achilles, just as he refused 
to aim at anything, to be content with anything, but the 
highest place of honour. Her wild haste to conquer her 
beloved corresponds with his desire to attain his aim at 
one blow, with his drama, Robert Guiscard. Like Kleist, she 
can only live when she is striving after what her soul desires. 
She says, what her author might have said : ' I should go 
mad if I did not attempt all that is within the bounds of 
possibility." 

She hates Achilles as fervently as Kleist in dark hours 
must have hated and cursed the destiny which forbade 
his winning the highest fame. She kills him in an access 
of detestation, as Kleist, in an access of desperation, destroyed 
his beloved work, his Guiscard. Yet she loves him, loves 
him helplessly, with a consuming passion. 1 When Achilles 
has wounded her in battle, she complains in words which 
seem to refer to the poet himself : — 

1 Cf. Otto Brahm, Heinrick von KUist. 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 269 

" Mir diesen Busen zu zerschmettern, Prothoe ! 
Die Brust, so voll Gesang, Asteria 1 
Ein Lied, jedweder Saitengriff auf ihn I wl 

When she is on the point of giving up everything, she says, 
as Kleist did in so many of his letters to his sister : — 

" Das Aeusserste, das Menschenkrafte leisten 
Hab ich gethan, Unmogliches versucht, 
Mein Alles hab ich an den Wurf gesetzt ; 
Der Wiirfel, der entscheidet, liegt, er liegt : 
Begreifen muss ich's — und dass ich verlor ! " * 

We can readily understand how it was that Pfuel, 
Kleist's faithful friend, found him sitting weeping after writ- 
ing the description of Penthesilea's death. Indeed, the poet 
himself wrote of the play to a friend : " It is true ; you 
have divined it with the glance of a seer ; my inmost self 
is in it, my soul in its glory and its anguish." 

Yet this personal element does not preclude Romantic 
mysticism ; the story is impregnated with it. Penthesilea's 
love expresses itself in such words as the following z — 

" Hetzt alle Hund' auf ihn ! mit Feuerbranden 
Die Elephanten peitschet auf ihn los ! 
Mit Sichelwagen schmettert auf ihn ein 
Und mahet seine upp'gen Glieder ab 1 " s 

This last repulsive wish, to see Achilles' limbs mowed 
off by the scythes of the chariots, is, as we learn at the 
conclusion of the play, no feigned desire. The Amazons 
are defeated, and their wearied and wounded queen falls 
into Achilles' hands. He loves her, and, to keep her from 
grieving and despairing, he attempts to make her believe 
that she has been victorious, and that he is her captive. 
She soon, however, discovers the truth. Then Achilles 

1 This speech is taken from the early edition. " To think that he could crush this 
breast, Prothoe ! a breast so full of song, Asteria ! At every touch upon its strings 
it gave forth melody." 

9 "The utmost that human powers can r" *~vt ; setting my all upon one 

throw of the dice, I have attempted the im •* the dice lie— and I have 

lost, have lost ; 'tis this that I must force ^ " 

■ " Set all the dogs upon him ! r hit they 

may crush him under foot 1 ^ his 
lusty limbtl" 






270 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

challenges her to single combat, with the intention of allow- 
ing her to defeat him, and in this manner becoming her 
husband. When Penthesilea receives the challenge, she does 
not understand its meaning. She is seized by a sort of 
Berserker fury, throws herself upon her horse, cries to her 
hounds, and dashes off. He sees her coming and is afraid 
She bends her bow " till the ends kiss/' takes aim, and sends 
an arrow through his neck. He falls, but, with the death 
rattle in his throat, struggles to rise again ; then she urges 
on her hounds to tear him to pieces, and, following their 
example, sets her teeth in his breast and bites until the 
blood drips from her mouth and hands. 

"Doch hetz ! schon raft sie : Tigris 1 hetz, Leane ! 
Hetz, Sphinx ! Melampus ! Dirke 1 hetz, Hyrkaon ! 
Und stunt — sturzt mit der ganzen Meut, o Diana ! 
Sich iiberihn, und reisst — reisst ihn beim Helmbusch 
Gleich einer Htindin, Hunden beigesellt, 
Der greift die Brust ihm, dieser greift den Nacken, 
Dass von dem Fall der Boden bebt, ihn nieder i 
Er, in dem Purpur seines Bluts sich walzend, 
Ruhrt ihre sanfte Wange an, und raft : 
Penthesilea 1 meine Braut ! was thust du ? 
1st dies das Rosenfest, das du versprachst? 
Doch sie — die Lowin hatte ihn geh6rt, 
Die hungrige, die wild nach Raub umher 
Auf 6den Schneegefilden heulend treibt — 
Sie schlagt, die Rustung ihm vom Leibe reissend, 
Den Zahn schlagt sie in seine weisse Brust, 
Sie und die Hunde, die wetteifernden, 
Oxus und Sphinx den Zahn in seine rechte, 
In seine linke sie ; als ich erschien, 
Troff Blut von Mund und Handen ihr herab." l 



1 •• At him, good dogs ! " she cries, " at him, good Tigris, Leane, Spte 
Melampus, Dirke, and Hyrkaon I " and, shouting thus, she rushes madly at hut 
with the pack, and, like a dog among the dogs, catches him by the plume of bis 
helmet and pulls him down, the earth shuddering at his fall. One has him by the 
neck, one by the breast Weltering in his blood, he touches her soft cheek is* 
cries : ' Penthesilea 1 sweet love ! art thou beside thyself? Is this the bridal festml 
thou promisedst ? ' The lioness, the hungry lioness roaring for her prey on the 
barren plain, would .have listened to him — but she — she tears the breastplate froa 
his breast, and sets her teeth deep in his flesh— she and her hounds in rivalry; 
Oxus and Sphinx have him by the right breast, she by the left When I armed, 
the blood was streaming from her mouth and hands." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 271 

It is long before she comes to her senses and realises 
what she has done. Her first feeling is utter despair, but 
presently she says : — 

u Wie manche, die am Hals des Freundes hangt, 
Sagt wohl das Wort : sie lieb'ihn, o so sehr, 
Dass sie vor Liebe gleich ihn fresscn k6nnte ; 
Und hinterher, das Wort gepriift, die Narrin 1 
Gesattigt sein zum Ekel ist sie schon. 
Nun, du Geliebter, so verfuhr ich nicht ; 
Sieh her : als ich an deinem Halse hing, 
Hab ich's wahrhaftig Wort fur Wort gethan ; 
Ich war nicht so verriickt, als es wohl schien." x 

She is not so mad as she seems. It is the same here 
as in Kdthchen von Heilbronn — what with most women is only 
a figure of speech, is in Penthesilea's case reality. Many 
a woman says she loves her lover with a passion so wild 
that she could eat him ; Penthesilea does it. She says : — 

" Kusse, Bisse, 
Das reimt sich, und wer recht von Herzen liebt, 
Kann schon das eine fur das andere greifen." s 

But even this is not the complete explanation. As 
yet we have only the two elements, sensuality and cruelty ; 
the third, religion, is present also. It appears as the sup- 
plementary colour when we look carefully at the first two. 
Remember Novalis's words, already quoted: "The divine 
significance of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is an 
enigma to the carnal mind. But he who even once has 
drunk in the breath of life from warm, beloved lips, whose 
heart has melted in the quivering flames of holy fire • • . 
he will eat of His body and drink of His blood for ever 
more." The great Christian mystery was a subject occu- 
pying all minds at this time, Kleist's among the rest. One 
of his intimate friends was the most notable mystic of the 

1 " Many is the woman who, with her arms round her lover's neck, has said : 
1 I love thee so, that I could eat thee.' If the fool tried, she was disgusted. It 
was not so with me, beloved. When I hung upon thy neck I said it not; I did it 
I was not so mad as I seemed to thee to be." 

1 " Kisses and bites — the two words rhyme (in German) ; and when one loves 
with all one's heart, it often happens that one confuses them." 



272 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

day, the ingenious sophist, Adam Muller. It may astonish 
us, or offend us, to find traces of Christian mystic dogma 
in a pagan drama which has the Queen of the Amazons for 
heroine ; but to understand this, and many other kindred 
phenomena, we must take the relative truth and justifi- 
ableness of this mysticism into consideration. These men 
could not shut their religious ideas into a cupboard, and 
keep them altogether apart from their lives and actions. 
It was not only twice, or possibly three times, a year that 
such a subject as the Lord's Supper occupied their minds ; 
it pervaded all their thoughts ; they strove to see life in 
the light of this great mystery. In the complete edition 
of Friedrich von Baader's collected works (vol. iv. Anthro- 
pology), amongst a number of short essays, such as: On 
the Ecstatic Rapture of those who Talk in Magnetic Steep, Tk 
Vision Seer of Prevorst, Forty Tenets of Religious Love, &e, 
<S-c., we find one entitled : That, in the Spiritual, Goad or Evil 
Meaning of the Word, all Men are Anthropophagi. It begins: 
" Man at heart, or, to use the language of Scripture, the 
inner man, does not live on tangible nourishment, on material 
bread ; he lives, and that not in the symbolical, but in 
the most real meaning of the word, entirely upon other 
inner men, whose hearts and words are his food." 

The great religious mystery ultimately became the centre 
round which even philosophical thought revolved. Henrik 
Steffens may serve as an example. This writer, in whose 
character, as Julian Schmidt 1 aptly remarks, "there is 
an undeniable strain of innate servility/' was appointed to 
conduct the trial of the demagogues in Breslau. It was 
a task which he accomplished in a spirit at variance with 
sound human reason and the natural sense of justice, and 
during its performance he gave expression to the most 
reactionary religious sentiments, entirely forgetful of the 
pantheism of his youth. In the essay, How I Once Mm 
Became a Lutheran, he writes : " The Holy Sacrament is the 
chief individualising process in Christianity ; by its means 
the whole mystery of the redemption enters in all its fulness 
into the receptive personality. The fertilising stream of 

* JuL Schmidt, GeschichU dcr deuischcn LitUrotur, ii. 307. 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 273 

grace, which, since the day of the great regeneration, has 
flowed through all nature and all history, and which matures 
us for a blessed future, here takes the form of the Saviour, 
in order that that which is all in all may be completely 
present. ... By means of the satisfying personal presence 
of the Saviour, that which the Christian truly believes, that 
which pervades his whole life, and overcomes death, yet at 
the same time forces him back into the domain of the 
senses, here becomes certainty, enjoyment, nourishment. 
... To me the communion of the Lord's Supper is the 
highest, most important, most mysterious of all religious 
acts ; so important does it seem to me, that through it every 
doctrine acquires unfathomable significance/' 

We see, then, how tremendously important a part this 
sacrament plays in the Christian mysticism of the period 
under consideration. There existed a tender, almost an 
erotic, relation between the faithful and the consecrated 
elements. True believers were declared to be sensible of 
the presence of these elements at an extraordinary distance. 
Read what Gdrres writes on the subject in the second part 
of his Mystik. " To begin with what is holiest — " he says, 
" all who have attained to the higher spiritual life are aware, 
at a prodigious distance, of the presence of the Host." A 
number of examples of this are given, and we are told in 
the preface that all the facts instanced are vouched for by 
numerous witnesses, that these witnesses were the most 
reliable imaginable, either priests or pious laymen, and 
that they were particularly favourably situated for making 
the necessary observations. And we not only learn that 
saintly believers can detect the Host, no matter where it 
may be hidden, but that the Host feels such an attraction 
towards them, that it springs from the priest's hand into 
their mouths. Sometimes the priest actually feels that it 
is violently torn out of his hands, drawn like steel by a 
magnet ; and the saintly, in their turn, are so forcibly 
attracted to the holy substance that they are carried 
through the air to it. 

Nowhere in all Kleist's writings has mysticism taken 
such strange possession of a perfectly pagan, not to say 



274 THE ROMAXTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

wanton, theme as in his A m a fUbjv m, which is an adaptation 
of Moikre's well-known comedy. The story, not a very easy 
one to treat, is as follows. Daring Amphitryon's absence, 
Jupiter aswimrs his form and visits his wife, Alcmene, who 
believes the god to be her husband. Amphitryon returns, 
and a whole series of comical confusions ensue between 
the real and the pretended husband, the real slave, Sosias, 
and Mercury as Sosias. At last the true state of affairs is 
explained, and Amphitryon has to console himself with 
the consideration that there is nothing dishonourable in 
such a relationship with Jupiter, — a moral theory which it 
must have been very much to the interest of Louis the 
Fourteenth to defend and propagate. 

m Moo nom, *|uiibccwjminmt touts la teiie adore, 
£touffc ici le bruit, qui pouvah eclater ; 
Un portage avec Jupiter 
N*a rien dn tout qui deshonore." 

In genuine French fashion, Moli&re makes the collision 
between the husband and the lover the main point in his 
play ; and when Alcmene upbraids Jupiter for the hard 
words he (#>. Amphitryon) has used to her, the god takes 
refuge in the following fine distinction : — 

" L'epoux, Alcmene, a commis tout le mal ; 
Cest l'lpoux qtfil vous faut regarder en coupable : 
L'amant n'a point de part a ce transport brutal, 
Et de vous offenser son coeur n'est point capable. 
II a de vous, ce coeur, pour jamais y penser, 
Trop de respect et de tendresse ; 
Et si de faire rien a vous pouvoir blesser 
II avait eu la coupable faiblesse, 
De cent coups a vos yeux il voudrait le percer. 
Mais l'lpoux est sorti de ce respect soumis 
Oil pour vous on dok toujours etre ; 
A son dur procexte* l'epoux s'est fait connaftre, 
Et par le droit daymen il s'est cru tout permis." 

Jupiter expresses himself, we see, with the polished gallantry 
of a courtier. At the close of the play the bystanders con- 
gratulate the wretched Amphitryon, and Sosias recites an 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 275 

epilogue, in which the whole matter is treated from the 
comical point of view, and the moral pointed that the less 
said about such affairs the better. 

Kleist naturally saw the subject in quite a different light. 
It is obvious that his Romantic mind was attracted first 
and foremost by the " Doppelgangerei ; " then came the 
possibility of playing, faintly but clearly, on one of the 
most important mysteries of the Christian faith. Alcmene's 
husband is not the father of Hercules, yet the conception 
was no violation of her marriage vow ; it was immaculate ; 
the being to which she gives birth is not the child of a man, 
but of a god. Therefore, in the most important scene be- 
tween Jupiter and Alcmene, the former is pantheistically 
exalted to the rank of the great world-spirit ; he is not 
the wanton Olympian of the Greeks, he is as divine and 
spiritual as the " Absolute" of the Naturphibsophie. He 
says to Alcmene : — 

" Nimmst Du die Welt, sein grosses Werk, wohl wahr ? 
Siehst Du ihn in der Abendrothe Schimmer, 
Wenn sie durch schweigende Gebusche fallt ? 
Horst Du ihn beim Gesausel der Gewasser, 
Und bei dem Schlag der iipp'gen Nachtigall ? 
Verkundigt nicht umsonst der Berg ihn Dir, 
Gethurmt gen Himmel, nicht umsonst ihn Dir 
Der felszerstiebten Katarakten Fall ? 
Wenn hoch die Sonn' in seinen Tempel strahlt, 
Und, von der Freude Pulsschlag eingelautet, 
Ihn alle Gattungen ErschafFner preisen, 
Steigst Du nicht in des Herzens Schacht hinab 
Und betest Deinen Gdtzen an ? n l 

1 " Art thou not conscious of him in the world, his work ? 
Dost thou not see him in the sunset glow 
That falls so softly on the silent woods ? 
Dost thou not hear him in the rippling stream, 
And in the nightingale's melodious notes ? 
Is it in vain the heaven-high mountains speak, 
And hissing foam of rock-torn waterfall ? 
When bright the sun into his temple shines, 
And all created life pulsates with joy, 
And magnifies its great Creator's name. 
Dost thou not seek the shrine or thy 
And worship there thine idol if " 



276 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Therefore, also, Alcmene is repeatedly addressed as "Thou 
Holy One ! " 

" Du bist, Du Heilige, vor jedem Zutritt 
Mit diamantnem Giirtel angethan. 
Auch selbst der Gluckliche, den Du empfangst, 
Entlasst Dich schuldlos noch und rein." . . .* 

Adam Muller wrote an enthusiastic, mystical preface 
to the play. And in one of his letters to Gentz he 
writes: "Hartmann has painted a grand picture, 'The 
Three Marys at the Sepulchre.' This and Amphitryon seem 
to me to herald a new period in art. For Amphitryon 
unmistakably treats of the immaculate conception of the 
Holy Virgin as well as of the mystery of love in general." 
Even Goethe felt this. He said: "The play contains 
nothing less than a new, Christian interpretation of the 
myth as a parallel to the overshadowing of Mary by the 
Holy Ghost." 

In 1806 Kleist had resigned his appointment and left 
Kdnigsberg. When the war broke out between France 
and Prussia, he was, from a misunderstanding, imprisoned 
for a time by the French. In 1808 he went to Dresden, 
where he became acquainted with Adam Muller. It was 
now Muller's ambition, as it had previously been Fr. 
Schlegel's, to influence men's minds in the capacity of prophet 
and apostle of Romanticism. He professed ardent ad- 
miration for Kleist, and, unfortunately, succeeded in gaining 
considerable power over him. Muller was a phrase- 
monger, who had acquired some little knowledge of several 
sciences, and was at this moment on the point of an- 
nouncing a new philosophy, in which there was (so he 
maintained) none of the one-sidedness characteristic of all 
previous systems. Its distinguishing doctrine was the doc- 
trine of "opposites," of the constantly changing, con- 
stantly renewed and superseded " opposite." According to 
Muller, the spirit of the eighteenth century and the spirit of 
Romanticism were only disguises of one and the same truth — 

1 " Thou art armed in adamant, thou holy one, against every approach of evil. The 
highly-favoured one embraced by thee leaves thee still innocent and pure." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 277 

a truth of which he no doubt believed himself to have 
entered into complete and enduring possession when he / 
joined the Church of Rome in 1805. 

For some time after his conversion to Catholicism, 
Muller's whole intellectual life resolved itself into mysticism. 
He studied "the mysterious life of the clouds," regarded 
his nervous fear of thunder and lightning as a special gift 
bestowed on him by Heaven, and believed himself able 
to foretell the intellectual development of genius by mathe- 
matical calculations. In course of time, in fellowship with 
Gentz, he entered the field of practical politics, beginning 
as a Prussian progressive patriot, ending as a reactionary v 
in the service of Metternich. 

In Dresden, in 1808, Muller and Kleist started the 
periodical, Phdbus, in which several of Kleisf s best works 
first saw the light. 

It is characteristic that what pleased Muller most in 
Amphitryon was exactly that element of Pagan - Christian 
mysticism, already referred to, which reveals itself in such a 
speech as the following almost literal reproduction of the 
words announcing the birth of Christ : — 

" Dir wird ein Sohn geboren, dess Name Hercules." 

He did not penetrate into the spirit of the work. The 
interest of the play centres in the character of Alcmene, 
the interest of her character in the vigour with which she 
refuses to allow her peace of mind to be disturbed and her 
feelings confused, and the interest of her tragic story in the 
anguish she suffers when, in spite of herself, her inmost 
feelings are agitated and perplexed by the appearance of her 
husband in different forms. 

Goethe, whose genius enabled him, though he did 
not understand Kleist's character, to understand much 
of the working of his mind, made the profound remark 
that what he chiefly aimed at was "confusion of feeling" 
(Verwirrung des Gefuhls). Kleist was in an abnormal 
degree dependent upon security of feeling. Confusion of 
feeling was to him the truest tragedy. 

His own strong, undivided feeling was unsettled and 



278 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

perplexed again and again. In conformance with the 
custom of his family, he became a Prussian officer; but 
family tradition and his own inclinations were at variance ; 
he could not endure the discipline, and left the army. He 
fell in love and pledged himself. His feeling for Wilhel- 
mine was strong, but his instinct of self-preservation as 
an artist was stronger ; here, too, there was perplexity of 
feeling, and he broke off the engagement. He had the 
feeling that he was a poet, a genius, but the result of all 
his efforts was a conviction of his want of real capacity, 
and in dire perplexity he determined to enlist in the 
French army, hoping to find death in its next campaign. 
All this explains his perpetual circling round the theme of 
perplexity of feeling. We have the idea very plainly in the 
admirable little tale, Die Marquise von O. The Marquise 
knows as little as Alcmene who it is that has embraced her 
in the dark ; her feelings, too, are perplexed and confused ; 
her nearest and dearest suspect her ; and when the Russian 
officer, whom she looks upon as her saviour, but who 
proves to be the delinquent, returns to her, loving and re- 
pentant, her innocent soul is rent by alternate paroxysms of 
hatred and love. In much the same manner, the sense of 
justice, originally so strong in the soul of Michael Kohlhaas, is 
confused by the wrongs he suffers. 

Wounded pride led Kleist to quarrel with friends and 
acquaintances ; a wounded sense of justice tempted him to 
insult Goethe. He sent his Penthesilea to the great master, 
whom he envied as much as he admired, and was bitterly 
disappointed when, as might have been expected, it was en- 
tirely disapproved of. Goethe, who, unfortunately, was only 
keen-sighted as regarded the repellent side of Kleisfs 
character, said of him : "In spite of my honest intention 
to be sympathetic and judge mildly, Kleist aroused in me 
nothing but shuddering aversion, resembling that produced by 
a body which nature has made beautiful, but which is attacked 
by some incurable disease." When the comedy, Der ser- 
brockene Krug ("The Broken Jar"), failed in Weimar, owing 
to Goethe's arbitrary rearrangement of its acts, Kleist's 
feelings became entirely " confused," and he wrote epigrams 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 279 

on the great man's private life, among others the low, ugly 
one on the child, " the precocious genius," who wrote the 
epithalamium for his own parents' wedding-day. 

It is this same confusion of feeling which gives their 
morbidness to all his productions. Even Michael Kohlhaas, 
that masterpiece of the art of story-telling, at the beginning 
of which each character is drawn with the precision of 
genius, ends in a kind of dream-like confusion. Towards 
the close of the story there appear two spectral figures — the 
sickly and at last half-insane Elector of Saxony, and an 
extraordinary gipsy woman, who, we are given to understand, 
is possessed by the spirit of Kohlhaas's dead wife — char- 
acters which contrast very forcibly with the simple, sane 
personages introduced to us at the beginning. Die heilige 
Cdcilie (St. Cecilia) is a Catholic legend, with a moral pointed 
against iconoclasm. The author revels here with a certain 
satisfaction in superstitious ideas ; he makes the saint punish 
the haters and destroyers of the art treasures of the Church 
with sudden madness. 

Kleist early became addicted to indulgence in opium, a 
fact of which some of these works remind us. 

In the year 1809 the poet appears as an ardent political 
agitator. Now, for a time, his voice sounds clear and full. 
He reproaches his countrymen with not having sufficient 
confidence in the mysterious power of the heart. He calls 
Napoleon a sinner, whose iniquity it is beyond the power of 
human language to express. Such resistance as has been 
offered to the French seems to him contemptibly weak. 
He dislikes Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation, sneers at 
Fichte himself as a pedant who talks but cannot act, and 
expresses unbounded contempt for the members of the 
Tu gen dbun d and their puerile inactivity. He writes a tragedy, 
Die Hermannsschlachiy with the object of inciting his country- 
men to treat Napoleon as Hermann (Arminius) treated 
Varus. The following lines in it are aimed at the laggard 
youth of the day: — 

" Die schreiben, Deutschland zu befreier 
Mit Chiffren, schicken mit G» f - U - A * 
Einander Boten, die die R 



280 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Versammeln sich urn Zwielicht — essen, trinken, 
Und schlafen, kommt die Nacht, bei ihren Frauen. 



Die Hoffnung : morgen stirbt Augustus 
Lockt sie, bedeckt mit Schmach und Schande, 
Von einer Woche in die andere/ * 

So little care does he bestow on the historical colouring 
of this play that he makes Hermann talk of a " bill " (of 
exchange), and Varus compare the leader of the Cheruski to 
a Dervish. 

He wanted such a war as the Spaniards used to wage, with 
murder and perjury, burning villages and poisoned wells. 

The battle of Wagram shattered all his hopes. Aghast, 
he asked if there were no such thing as justice upon earth. 

Things stood badly now with Kleist — no comfort in public 
life, no prospects in private life, no money, no employment, 
no approbation, no encouragement. His nearest and dear- 
est did not appreciate him. Shortly before his death he 
writes to a motherly friend : " I would rather die ten times 
over than endure again what I lately endured in Frankfort, 
sitting at the dinner-table between my two sisters. The 
thought that what I have actually done, be it little or much, 
is not acknowledged by them at all, that I am looked upon 
as an utterly useless member of society, no longer worthy of 
the slightest sympathy, not only robs me of the future, but 
poisons the past to me." 

Unwilling as he was to return to a profession he had 
given up twelve years before, it at last seemed to him that 
the only possible way in which he could earn his bread was 
by re-entering the army. He did not even own money 
enough to procure an officer's outfit. An appeal to Harden- 
berg for assistance was left unanswered. It was exactly at 
this time that Prussia was compelled to enter into an alliance 
with Napoleon against Russia. Can one imagine greater 
11 confusion of feeling " than was now the lot of the unhappy 

1 " They write their plans for liberating Germany in cipher, and send them to each 
other by messengers whom the Romans catch and hang ; they meet in the dusk, they 
eat, they drink, and sleep, when night comes, with their wives. . . . The hope that 
Augustus may die to-morrow leads them to live on thus, covered with shame, from one 
week to another." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 281 

patriot? The author of the Hermannsschlacht } the mortal 
enemy of Napoleon, forced, as a Prussian officer, to fight 
for the humiliator of his country 1 

This last collision of duties broke his heart. u My soul 
is so spent," he writes, "that I feel as if the very daylight 
that shines on me when I put my head out at the window 
hurts me." 

He was ripe for the irrevocable decision. Through 
Muller he had made the acquaintance of Frau Henriette 
Vogel, a gifted woman, who, like himself, suffered from 
melancholia, and who imagined that she had an incurable 
disease. This lady reminded him one day, that in an early 
stage of their friendship he had promised to do anything 
she might require of him, let it be what it might. He 
replied that he was ready at any moment to fulfil his promise. 
u Then kill me," she said. " My sufferings are so great that 
I can no longer endure life. I don't believe, though, for a 
moment that you will do it — the men of to-day are not men 
at all." This was enough for Kleist. In November 181 1 he 
and Henrietta drove together to a little inn on the shore of 
the Wannsee, a small lake near Potsdam. They were ap- 
parently in the best of spirits, full of jest and merriment all 
that day and until the afternoon of the next, when they went 
down to a retired spot on the shore, and Kleist shot his 
friend through the left breast and himself through the head. 
They had previously written a strange, mournfully humorous 
letter to Adam Muller's wife. It runs as follows : — 

" Heaven knows, my dear, good friend, what strange 
feeling, half sorrowful, half glad, moves us to write to you 
at this hour — when our souls, like two lightsome atrial 
voyagers, are preparing to take flight from the world. For 
you must know that we had determined to leave no p.p.c. 
cards upon our friends and acquaintances. The reason 
probably is, that we have thought of you a thousand times 
in as many happy moments, and pictured to ourselves a 
thousand times how you would have laughed good-naturedly 
if you had seen us together in the green or the red room. 
Yes, the world is a strange place 1 It is not unfitting that 
we two, Jette and I, two sorrowful, melancholy beings, who 



282 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

have always complained of each other's coldness, should 
have come to love each other dearly, the best proof of which 
is, that we are now about to die together. 

" Farewell, our dear, dear friend ! May yoa be happy 
here upon earth, as it is doubtless possible to be! As 
for us, we have no desire for the joys of this world ; ocr 
dream is of the plains of heaven and the heavenly sods, 
in whose light we shall wander with long wings upon oar 
shoulders. Adieu ! A kiss from me, the writer, to Mailer. 
Tell him to think of me sometimes, and to continue to be a 
brave soldier of God, fighting against the devil of foolishness, 
who holds the world in his chains." 

Postscript in Henriette's writing: — 



"Doch,wiedies; 
EnahP ich coch znr andera Zeit, 
Daza bin ich zo eifig heat. 1 

"Farewell, my dear friends! And do not forget to 
think, in joy and in sorrow, of the two strange beings 
who are now about to set out on the great voyage of 
discovery." Henriette." 

(In Kleisfs handwriting) — "Written in the green room* 
on the 21st of November, 1811. H. v. K." 

Kleist was the most intractable character in the intellec- 
tual world of the Germany of that day ; he had, moreover, 
too much heart, too strong feelings. After he had given up 
all hope of attaining to a knowledge of the truth, he trirf 
to build upon the foundation of feeling. As author he was 
able to do it ; his Michael KokJhaas is based upon the feeling 
of justice, Kdthchen von Heillmmn upon the feeling of absolute 
devotion. But the real world to which he himself belonged 
had no use for strong, unmixed feeling such as his. He 
did not find it in others, and wherever he followed it himsdi 
the consequences were disastrous. Alas 1 no ; nothing *£ 
quite certain on this earth, not even his own vocation 1 

No one could prize decision, unity of character, mo*] 
than he did, and never was there a more uncertain, divided ] 

1<( How it all happened I'll tell joq again; to-day I'm in too great a hany." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 283 

morbid man. He was always despairing, always wavering 
between the highest endeavour and the inclination to commit 
suicide. This explains how it is that we see him, the greatest 
of the Romanticists, liable to almost all the errors which 
distinguish his contemporaries. His own really fine, noble 
nature was spoiled very much as are most of the characters 
in his works, by sinister, disastrous peculiarities, which slacken 
the will and destroy the elasticity of the mind. Yet Hein- 
rich von Kleist has assured himself a place in literature, like 
all others who have won places there, by the vigour and the 
passion with which he lived and wrote. 1 

In the other notable dramatist of the Romantic School 
there was far less to disintegrate. He was the genuine 
Romanticist from the very first. 

Zacharias Werner was born in Kdnigsberg in 1768. He 
was the son of a professor at the University, who also held 
the post of dramatic censor. Hence, even as a child, Zacha- 
rias had the opportunity of seeing plays almost daily, and in 
his earliest youth he was able to make himself acquainted 
with all the technicalities of the stage. His mother, accord- 
ing to Hoffmann, " was richly endowed with both intellect 
and imagination." Her mind inclined to earnest, highly 
imaginative mysticism, and she exercised no inconsiderable 
influence upon her son's ardent imagination ; but in course of 
time she became insane, one of her delusions being that she 
herself was the Virgin Mary, and her son the Saviour of the 
world. 

As a student, Zacharias, who was of a sanguine, sensual 
temperament, led an exceedingly dissolute life. In his 
twentieth year he published a volume of lyric poems, 
which, like the earliest writings of Friedrich Schlegel and 
the other Romanticists, are entirely untouched by mysticism ; 
they inveigh, in the style of the eighteenth century, against 
11 sanctimoniousness, pious stupidity, hypocrisy, and Jesuit- 
ism." Nevertheless, while still comparatively young, he him- 
self adopted the sanctimonious style. Though he continued 
to be dissipated, he cannot exactly be called a hypocrite, for 

i Adolf Wilbrandt, Heinrich von KUiit, iS ~*<h von 

Kleist, 1884. 
VOL. H, 






284 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IX GERMANY 

he sinned and repented alternately. The distinguishing 
feature of his character was instability, as he himself con- 
fesses in his last poem, Umstats Morgenpsabm (" The Unstable 
Man's Morning Hymn ") ; and long before, in the prologue to 
S6hne des Thais (" Sons of the Vale"), he had called himself an 
inconstant creature, " perpetually erring, lamenting, warning," 

Religious motives induced Werner to join the Free- 
masons ; he believed that this order would prove the means 
of diffusing throughout the whole world a new and more 
sincere spirit of piety. Pecuniary motives induced him to 
accept a Government secretaryship ; and in 1795, not long 
after addressing three enthusiastic poems (a war song, a call 
to arms, and a lament) to the unfortunate Poles, he took up 
his abode in the capacity of a Prussian Government official 
in the conquered city of Warsaw, where he spent ten pleasant 
years. He married three times during the course of those 
ten years. The first two marriages were so ill-advised that 
in both cases the divorce promptly followed the wedding ; the 
third, with a particularly charming Polish lady, lasted for 
some years. From her he was divorced in 1805. On this 
occasion Werner took all the blame upon himself. " I an 
not," he writes to Hitzig at the time, " a bad man, but I as 
in many ways a weakling, though in others God grants n* 
strength. I am timid, capricious, miserly, uncleanly. Y<* 
know it yourself." Not a flattering portrait. 

Schleiermacher's Lectures on Religion and, following 
on these, the writings of Jakob Bdhme made no sntfl 
impression on him. Art and religion now became to 
one and the same thing. " Why," he writes to Hitzig 
41 have we not one name for these two synonyms ? " They i 
signify to him what he at one time calls the " vivid sense 
of the nearness of great Nature," at another, " the simpk, I 
humble outpouring of the pure soul into the pure stress I 
(of Nature)." His literary opinions are, he declares, 
"exactly those of Tieck." In Warsaw he still writes coldly I 
of the Catholic Church; he defends it, not as "a systesf 
of faith, but as a newly reopened mine of mythology." 

Death bereft him on one day, the 24th of Februai 
j 804, of his mother and his most intimate friend, Mnjcx 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 285 

a Pole — hence the title of his fatalistic tragedy, The Twenty- 
Fourth of February, written ten years later. 

Having solicited all his patrons and friends in turn to 
procure him an appointment with as little work and as much 
remuneration as possible, he finally obtained an easy and 
profitable post in Berlin, through the influence of a minister 
who was deeply interested in both religion and freemasonry. 
He gave himself up for a time to all the amusements and 
dissipations of the capital ; but, after the defeat of the 
Prussians by Napoleon, he threw up his appointment and 
began to lead a wandering life. He was alone and free, for 
all his marriages had been childless, and he had inherited a 
fortune at his mother's death. He travelled through Ger- 
many and Austria, that " blessed land," as he calls it, made 
the acquaintance of Madame de StaSl, and visited her at 
Coppet. In Weimar he succeeded in obtaining a pension 
from the Prince-Primate (Furst-Primas) Dalberg. Professor 
Passow, who made his acquaintance in Weimar, wrote to 
Voss : lt I dislike Werner exceedingly, for the reason that I 
have never seen him twice the same. This is the conse- 
quence of his insufferable anxiety to please every one. It 
depends entirely upon his company whether he is the low 
libertine or the pious devotee of the most modern, most 
spiritual type." A clergyman named Christian Mayr obtained 
great influence over him. Mayr was a fanatic and an 
eccentric. In order to realise one of the visions in the Book 
of Revelations and to attain heavenly wisdom, he swallowed 
the greater part of a Bible, and was dangerously ill in con- 
sequence ; he shot with a pistol at any member of his con- 
gregation who fell asleep when he was preaching ; and he 
believed that he could, during the celebration of the sacra- 
ment, produce real flesh and blood. This man was desirous 
that Werner should join a great secret society, the " Kreuzes- 
brader im Orient." At first Werner was very enthusiastic 
in the matter, then he began to entertain doubts, and these 
doubts partly led to his conversion to Catholicism. 

In November 1809, after paying a visit at Coppet, he 

went to Rome, where he spent several years. His conver- 

-*n took place in 18 10. During his years of wandering he 



286 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

had led the maddest of lives, dividing each day between low 
debauchery and religious excitement, between gross sensual 
indulgence and solemn intercourse with the Deity. The 
fragments of his diary, published in two small volumes by 
Schutz, betray a coarse immorality, an obscenity of thought, 
and a shamelessness of expression, which are rendered only 
the more repulsive by the outbursts of miserable remorse 
and self-accusation which interrupt the detailed descriptions 
of erotic experiences. 

In a testamentary epistle to his friends (dated September 
1812) he mentions the two motives which withhold him 
from a public confession, "The one is, that to open a 
plague pit is dangerous to the health of the still uninfected 
bystanders ; the other, that, in my writings (for which God 
forgive me), among a wilderness of poisonous fungi and 
noxious weeds there is to be found here and there a healing 
herb, from which the poor sick people to whom it might be 
useful would assuredly shrink back in horror if they knew 
the pestilential spot in which it had grown." 

When Werner had (characteristically enough after his 
conversion) studied theology and made himself acquainted 
with the Catholic ritual, he was ordained priest. It was in 
Vienna, in 18 14, at the time of the Congress, that he made 
his first appearance as a preacher. He was most successful 
People were impressed by his tall, spare, ascetic figure and 
his long thin face, with the prominent nose and the dart 
brown eyes gleaming under heavy eyebrows. He preached 
to enormous crowds sermons of which the Monk's sermon 
in Wallensteitis Lager may serve to give a faint idea. They 
were full of high-flown bombast and disgusting obscenities, 
united wit and wisdom with ascetic nonsense and tiresome 
twaddle, overflowed with denunciations of heretics and 
eulogies of the rosary. 1 

Werner died in Vienna in 1823. He is the representative J 
in-chief of mysticism in literature. His life is the key tote 
works — works which profoundly impressed his contempor- 
aries, but which interest us chiefly from the pathological poit 
of view. He undoubtedly possessed considerable poetic gift 

1 Hitzig, Lebens-Abriss Zacharias Werners % 1823 ; SchUtx, Zacharw Warn 
Biographic und Charaktcriitxk^ tfe^v. 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 287 

His verse is melodious and falls caressingly on the ear, like 
the church music of southern lands. His characters are gener- 
ally well planned (take, for example, Franz von Brienne in the 
first and second acts of Die Tempter auj Cypern — u The Knights 
Templar in Cyprus "), and the action interests and keeps us in 
suspense ; but the core and kernel of it all, the threefold 
kernel of sensuality, religion, and cruelty, is ill-flavoured and 
unwholesome. 

His first important work, Die Sd'hne des Thais, which is 
in two parts, of six acts each, deals with the Order of the 
Templars. He was obviously inspired to it by the ideas of 
freemasonry, ideas which had impressed Schubert, had 
played a part in Wilhelm Meister, and had considerably 
influenced his own private life. 

In this work the encasing of one idea within another 
— from the very beginning a favourite device of the 
Romanticists — takes the form of everything circling round 
a central mystery, the mystery of the secret society ; we 
penetrate ever farther and farther in, but as we do so, it 
seems to retreat from us. The Order of the Templars has its 
own particular mysteries, and we witness every detail of the 
initiation of the neophytes into these — in gloomy vaults, 
with all the paraphernalia of colossal skeletons, cryptic 
books, curtains, swords, palms, &c, &c. The meaning 
underlying it all is : " Aus Blut und Dunkel quillt Erl6- 
sung " (From blood and darkness issues redemption). But 
the order of Knights Templar is only a branch order ; the 
great mother-order, "das Thai" (the Vale), is in possession, 
as we learn in the second part of the work, ot all the higher 
mysteries and the higher power. But its inmost mystery, too, 
is only the purely negative idea of renunciation and sacrifice. 
Hidden voices proclaim " in a hollow, chanting tone " — 

"Alles ist zum Seyn erkoren, 

Alles wird durch Tod geboren, 

Und kein Saatkorn geht verloren. 
" Wer durch Blut und Nacht geschwommen, 

Ist den Aengsten bald entnommen, 

Blutiger, sei tins willkommen ! " 1 

1 " Life is the destiny of everything ; through death comes birth ; not one grain of 
seed is lost He who has struggled through blood and darkness has overcome. All 
hail, O bleeding knight ! " 



288 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

We gain some idea of the extent to which the mysteries 
are utilised in the elaboration of stage decoration and cos- 
tumes from the fact that in the twelfth scene of the fifth 
act, which consists of sixty-four lines, only six are dialogue, 
the remainder being devoted to directions regarding " a great 
burial mound, covered with roses, with transparencies of an 
angel, a lion, a bull, and an eagle, disposed at the four 
corners " — the costumes to be worn by the dignitaries of the 
11 Vale," of which some are to be cloth of gold, some silver, 
some sky blue, some blood red — and the incense, the harps, 
the bells, the crowns and crowns of thorns, the banners, and 
the "colossal statue of Isis," required in the scene. 

The Order of Knights Templar has degenerated. The 
mother-order determines to abolish it altogether, and con- 
demns its Grand Master, the noble and heroic Molay, to be 
burned, although he is entirely guiltless of the decadence of 
his order — has, in fact, striven hard to arrest it. The Arch- 
bishop, who tries him, is convinced of the injustice of the 
accusations brought against him, and loves and admires 
him, but is compelled to obey orders. Molay faces death 
with as great calm as Paludan-Muller's Kalanus ; in fact, he 
longs for the "purifying flames." The bystanders sympa- 
thise with him, and cry to him to make his escape; but, 
like Kalanus, he resists all entreaties. The Archbishop's 
feeling for him is shared by every one ; he is surrounded by 
a crowd of sentimental executioners, who consign him to the 
flames with expressions of the utmost admiration and esteem. 
They are cruel, sentimental fanatics, like Werner himself. 
Every character in the play is tainted with repulsive senti- 
mentality. Molay's old comrade in arms, when prevented 
from rescuing him, says : — 

" Du b6ser Jakob Du !— Pfui ! sterbcn will er, 
Verlasscn seinen Waffenbruder ! — Jakob 1 
Du musst nicht sterben ! horst Du ? w * 

But the guiltless Molay dies. There is the same play 
upon the Christian mystery here as in Kleist's drama 

1 ,€ You wicked Jacques! What? Die and leave your old comrade? No ba 
Jacques— you must not do it." 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 289 

Molay is venerated like a second Christ, even by his 
executioners. After his death a miracle happens. " Sun- 
light gilds the scene. Above the entrance to the Vale 
cavern, below the brightly illuminated name ' Jesus/ there 
appear the names 'John,' ' J. B. Molay/ and 'Andrew/ also 
in bright transparencies." All the crusaders fall upon their 
knees. "Long, solemn pause, during which there come 
from the interior of the cavern the muffled sounds of the 
1 Holy 1 Holy ! Holy 1 ' sung by the elders of the Order of 
the Vale to the usual tune, with an accompaniment of 
harps and bells." 

Martyrdom is Werner's specialty. He is at home in 
such subjects as beating to death with clubs, boiling in oil, 
and the tortures of the rack. He revels in agonies, as 
does Gorres, whose satisfaction we almost seem to feel as we 
read of all the mysteries of martyrdom in the first part of his 
Christian Mysticism. "The sacrificial victims are stretched 
upon the rack or the wheel, and all their limbs are twisted 
out of joint by means of screws . . . while the lictors scorch 
their sides with torches or tear them with iron claws. 
Chains are sometimes drawn round their bodies until their 
ribs are broken ; their chests and eyes are pierced with 
pointed reeds ; their jaws are broken with heavy blows 
of the torturer's fist ; and, though the victims are now 
hardly drawing breath, nails are hammered through their 
feet and red-hot iron rods are laid upon their tenderest parts 
and allowed to burn themselves in," &c, &c. 

In Werner's drama, Attila, a young man whom Attila 
loves is accused of perjury and confesses his guilt. Attila, 
who is an emotional, sentimental enthusiast, embraces him, 
shedding burning tears, and then orders him to be torn 
asunder by horses. Cruel sentimentality, fanatic brutality, f }^J 
is Romantic wont. Along with Attila we have Pope Leo, 
another character who seems to have escaped from the pages 
of Gorres' Mysticism — this time undoubtedly from the chapter 
treating of the height from the ground to which the en- 
thusiast in his religious rapture is at times raised ; for, while 
he is praying, Leo " raises himself higher and higher, until 
he is resting only on the tips of his toes." He sym- 



290 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

pathises with Attila, and has a sort of magnetic influence 
over him. f 

In Martin Luther, oder die Weihe der Kraft (" The Consecra* 
tion of Strength"), the mystery of religious consecration is the 
subject. The play opens significantly with a scene of the 
Novalis type, miners going down into and being drawn up 
from a mine. The representation of Luther is more suggestive 
of a Catholic saint than of the Protestant reformer. Of 
Katharina von Bora, too, a saintly character is made. Luther 
and she are accompanied throughout the play by guardian 
angels, Luther by the boy Theobald, who is really art in the 
shape of a seraph, and Katharina by a girl named Therese, who 
represents faith. A few years after Werner had thus sung 
the praises of the Reformation, he was converted ; where- 
upon he wrote a poem, Die Weihe der Unkraft, full of such 
sentiments regarding his drama as : " Durch dies Gaukel- 
blendwerk sprach ich der Wahrheit Hohn ! " (With this 
delusive mummery I set at nought the truth.) 

The subject of his last tragedy, Die Mutter der Makkabte, 
offered glorious opportunities for introducing all the tortures 
described in the legends of the martyrs ; it abounds in 
physical suffering and religious ecstasies. The sons of 
Salome must either eat of the flesh of the sacrifice offered to 
Jupiter or die the most cruel death. The comical idea of 
its being a matter of life and death whether children taste 
certain food or not, is treated with the most overwhelming 
solemnity. In a state of supernatural excitement, Salome 
entreats her children, one by one, to allow themselves to be 
impaled, flayed, burned, &c. The sentimental chief torturer, 
Antiochus, admires Salome intensely ; he actually falls upon 
his knees before her, crying — 

u Du bist kein irdisch Weib ! — Solch Opfer spendet 
Kein menschlich Wesen ! — Segne mich, Du, vom Olymp gesendet !* 1 

And the equally sentimental Salome blesses him. Her 
son Benoni, too, blesses his murderer, immediately after 
which his hands and feet are cut off, and he is boiled in oil 

1 " Thou art not of this earth ! No mortal offers such a sacrifice ! Bless me, 
thou daughter of Olympian gods 1 " 



MYSTICISM IN THE ROMANTIC DRAMA 291 

Presently two loud axe-strokes are heard — Abir's feet have 
been cut off. Juda is tortured next; and so on it goes. Antio- 
chus, the barbarous king, or Werner, the equally barbarous 
poet, has the children broken on the wheel joint by joint, 
and their limbs torn off. The mother, who is compelled to 
witness it all, feels nothing but the rapturous bliss of martyr- 
dom ; and when Antiochus, in his insane sentimentality, 
bows before her a second time, "deeply moved," crying: 
" Willst, grosse Niobe, Du Dich von mir im Zorne trennen ? " 
(" And must thou part from me in wrath, great Niobe ? "), she 
lays her right hand on his head, and says " very solemnly " : 
" Ich weiss, dass mein Erlaser lebt ! — Lern' sterbend ihn 
erkennen ! " (" I know that my Redeemer liveth ! — Ere death 
come, mayst thou know him too 1 "). 

In the last scene the background opens, and we see the 
instruments of torture and the huge copper full of boiling 
oil, in which Benoni lies. His wife is staring down into it. 
The flames of the stake are still blazing. Salome's spirit 
appears above them and extinguishes them. 

And there was a time when this was considered poetry ! 
Goethe took a warm interest in Werner, and had several of ^ 
his plays performed in the court theatre at Weimar. In 
1808 he wrote of him to Jacobi: "It seems strange to an 
old pagan like me, that I can see the cross planted on my 
own territory, and hear Christ's blood and wounds preached 
poetically, without its being actually offensive to me. The 
standpoint to which philosophy has raised us makes this 
degree of tolerance obligatory. We have learned to value 
the ideal, even when it manifests itself in the strangest 
forms." 

Few educated men will be inclined to take so mild and 
tolerant a view of the matter to-day. The development is 
utterly repugnant to us. For we have seen to what it led. 
We have seen that this u Christian poetry " helped to bring 
about the worst intellectual reaction of modern times. Men v 
played so long with the idea of the purifying flames of the 
stake that they began to extol them in sober earnest. It is 
but a step from Werner to Gorres, who ardently defends 
exorcism of evil spirits and punishment of witchcraft ; and the 



292 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

distance is no greater between Gorres and Joseph de Maistre, 
who writes : " In many a well-governed country in Europe 
they say of a man who has set fire to an inhabited house 
and been burned with it : 'It is only what he deserved/ Is 
a human being who has been guilty of any amount of 
theoretical and practical (ue. religious) evil-doing less deserv- 
ing of being burned ? When one reflects that it was un- 
doubtedly in the power of the Inquisition to have prevented 
the French Revolution, one cannot feel certain that the 
sovereign who calmly discarded such a weapon did not 
deal a fatal blow to humanity." 

If Romantic Christianity is, as Ruge says, the Christianity 
which cannot be resolved into humanitarianism, then Joseph 
de Maistre is a genuine Romanticist. 

The whole history of Romanticism substantiates Ruge's 
famous definition : " A Romanticist is an author who, aided 
by all the intellectual advantages of our day, assails the 
periods of ' enlightenment ' and of revolution, and reprobates 
and combats the principle of pure humanitarianism in the 
domains of science, art, morality, and politics." 



XVI 

ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 

In its first period, Romanticism is distinctly non-political. It 
exalts the established order of things (vide Novalis), it sub- 
missively acknowledges the authority of the king and of the 
Church, but in its purely literary productions it is, generally 
speaking, politically colourless. 

Take Tieck's satiric comedies. In their outward form 
there is something Aristophanic ; but their satire is never 
directed against any political character or tendency. It is 
aimed at " enlightenment ; " and from Tieck's biographer we 
learn exactly what the poet understood by this word. At 
that time, says Kopke, the most prominent and respected 
men in Berlin, those who were still the leaders of public 
opinion, were of the school of Frederick the Great. The 
prevailing opinions of the eighteenth century had become 
their second nature. They were moral, conscientious men, 
who, in all the different departments of administration, 
science, and literature, devoted themselves zealously, and 
often with extraordinary industry, to their duties. Whether 
government officials, theologians, teachers, critics, popular 
philosophers, or poets, they all aimed at making religion and 
science useful, and at educating mankind by external pro- 
visions and rules. Intelligibility and popularity being to 
them all-important, they naturally diluted and levelled 
everything to one general plane of mediocrity. A certain 
blameless philistinism became their moral ideal, an ideal 
which seemed poor and tame in comparison with the 
old fervour of faith. Lessing was their prophet, and they 
believed themselves to be perpetuating his tradition. We 
can readily understand that they fell foul of Goethe, wfr' " 
indeed Lessing himself had done, and that they had a i 






294 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

conception of the significance and value of imagination. To 
them it was only the handmaid of utility, and of no value 
except as an instrument in the service of morality. 

Everywhere throughout Tieck's writings we come upon 
mockery of this moral literary tendency. Take, for instance, 
Der GestiefelU Kater ("Puss in Boots"). — Hinze, the cat, is 
taking an evening walk, absorbed in melancholy thought. 
He begins to sing a hunting song. A nightingale strikes up 
in a bush close at hand. "She sings magnificently, this 
songstress of the groves," says Hinze ; " but think how 
delicious she must taste / Happy indeed are the great of the 
earth ; they can eat as many nightingales and larks as they 
fancy. We poor common people have to be content with 
the song, with the beauty, with the indescribably sweet 
harmony. — It is terrible that I cannot hear anything sing 
without wanting to eat it." 

Hisses from the pit. The worthy audience is shocked 
by the cat's ignoble train of thought. So Hinze lets the 
nightingale alone; but presently, when a rabbit comes 
bounding by, he catches him adroitly and puts him into his 
bag. It is his intention, by the gift of this rabbit, to win 
the king's heart for his master. " The creature," he reflects 
aloud, " is a sort of cousin of mine ; but it's the way of the 
world nowadays — kinsman against kinsman, brother against 
brother!" He is presently strongly tempted to eat the 
rabbit himself, but overcomes the desire, and cries: "Fie! 
for shame, Hinze ! Is it not the duty of the truly noble to 
sacrifice themselves and their inclinations to the happiness 
of their fellow-creatures ? It is the end for which we were 
created, and he who cannot do it— oh ! it were better for 
him that he had never been born ! " He is about to retire, 
but loud applause and cries of Da Capo! oblige him to 
repeat the last speech, after which he bows, and goes off 
with the rabbit. The audience is in the seventh heaven of 
delight — Hinze's speech is as effective as one of Iffland's 
tirades. 

The satire in Tieck's DaUmling (" Hop o' my Thumb ") is 
also of a literary nature, being directed against the neo-classic 
tendency, and in particular against Goethe. Such a theme, 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 295 

treated, as it was in part, in the dignified metre of Greek 
tragedy, afforded many opportunities for drollery. All the 
incidents of the medieval fairy-tale are viewed from the 
antique standpoint. Of the seven-league boots, for instance, 
we read : " Trust me ; I see quite well that these boots have 
come down to us from old tereek times. No man in our day 
produces work like that — so strong, so simple, such noble 
lines, such stitching 1 No, no ! this is the work of Phidias, 
there is no doubt about it. Look ! When I place the one 
in this position — how noble, how plastic, how grand in its 
simplicity ! No superfluity, no ornament, no Gothic detail, 
none of the romantic medley of our days — when sole, leather, 
flaps, folds, blacking, varnish, must all contribute to produce 
variety, brilliancy, a dazzling resplendence in which there is 
nothing ideal. Nowadays the leather must shine, the sole 
must creak when one sets one's foot down: wretched 
rhyming trickery of which the ancients knew nothing." 
Several of Goethe's favourite words are employed in this 
more sarcastic than witty description. 

Tieck shows most wit in defending himself against the 
accusation of exaggerated sentimentality. His satire might 
quite well apply to the modern admirers of Prosper M6ri- 
m6e. He revenges himself upon his critics by placing 
their objections in the mouth of Leidgast, the cannibal, 
who comes home, smells human flesh, and determines to 
eat Hop o' my Thumb and his brothers and sisters for 
breakfast next morning. In the meantime they are to be 
kept in the garret. "But what if your own three little 
ones should awake?" objects his wife. "Well, what 
then ? " " The strange children would not be safe. Yours 
are so eager for human flesh that they have lately actually 
tried to suck my blood." " You don't say so ? I should 
never have credited them with so much sense and under- 
standing." His wife weeps. "Be done with this senti 
mentality, wife. I cannot bear an effeminate education. I 
have strictly forbidden them all these prejudices. s«nAi- s tU 
tions, and enthusiasms. Untutored, unadult 
that's the thing for me." 

However varied the objects of Tieck's 






296 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

is always literary satire ; it never crosses the boundary 
between literature and life. Iffland and Kotzebue, the bom- 
bastic classic style and narrow-minded philistine criticism, 
the text of The Magic Flute, Nicolai's travellers' tales, academic 
pedantry and the LtUeraturzeitung — these are the unfailing 
scapegoats. 

Occasionally, in striking at " enlightenment " and every- 
thing thereto pertaining, he has a half accidental thrust at 
the powers that be. The king in P$4ss in Boots, for instance, 
who places the court scientist on the same level with the 
court fool, who lives for military parades, loves to listen to 
repetitions of the figures arrived at in astronomical calcula- 
tions, and bestows his favour in return for a tasty rabbit, 
certainly does not represent royalty in the most advantageous 
light. But this happened half accidentally. In the same 
play the law goes by the name of Popanz (the bogey-man), 
is changed into a mouse, creeps into a mouse-hole, and is 
eaten by Hinze, who, not long after, shouts : ' Long live the 
Tiers Etat ! ' But this is no more nor less than a specimen 
of real Romantic nonsense, with no meaning in it at all. 
The only trace of real political satire to be found, is in one 
of Tieck's early works, Hanswurst als Emigrant, Hanswurst 
being no other than the Prince d'Artois, who, in his 
character of poor, stupid emigrant, has to ride on his 
servant's back for want of a horse. But this work remained 
unpublished during Tieck's lifetime. 

It does not surprise us that Kotzebue failed in his 
attempts to get Tieck into disgrace for writing political 
satire. Having succeeded, in 1802, in gaining admis- 
sion to the court, he, Kotzebue, endeavoured to revenge 
himself on his adversary by reading the parade scene from 
Zerbino to the king, interspersing malicious hints. It was an 
ineffectual endeavour, for the king took no notice. And 
Tieck was pleased and proud to be able to prove his 
innocence — the play had been written in 1790, under 
totally different conditions, and was founded entirely upon 
youthful impressions. His satisfaction was so far justifiable; 
for abusive personal satire is out of place in art. Neverthe- 
less, the anecdote affects us tragi-comically. The poetry 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 297 

was harmless enough, heaven knows. There was no cause 
for any king or government in the world to be in the least 
disturbed by such satire. Unluckily, the best satirical poetry 
is not of the kind that leaves every one unscathed. The 
comedies of Aristophanes, with which Tieck's admirers 
thought his worthy of comparison, were considerably less 
innocent and innocuous ; and all the really great satirical 
works of later days, such as Molifere's Tariuffe or Beau- 
marchais' Figaro, have one characteristic in common — their 
action does not take place in the moon ; they make war on 
something besides inept poets and moralising poetry. 

Romanticism, however, did not long maintain this aloof- 
ness from life and politics. 

The year 1806 was a critical year for Prussia and Ger- 
many. 1 The country was entirely in the power of the 
foreign conqueror. But this is the very reason why all the 
great reforms trace their origin to this year. The depth of 
adversity reached was so great that an energetic upward 
struggle had become imperative. The indefatigable Baron 
von Stein began the reorganisation of Prussian public 
institutions ; Scharnhorst remodelled the army ; the state 
of the universities was inquired into ; and as one result of 
this last proceeding Fichte was called to Berlin in 1807. 
The appointment was a remarkable one in many respects. 
It was intended to show that henceforth a new and different 
spirit was to rule. When, in 1792, Fichte wrote his first 
work, Versuch einer Kritik alter Offenbarung (" An Attempt at 
a Criticism of all Revelation "), he was afraid to publish it 
otherwise than anonymously. When, somewhat later, he 
brought out his Zuruckforderung der Denkfreiheit (" Demand 
for the Restoration of Freedom of Thought " ), he dared not 
even name the town in which the book was printed. It was 
published in u Heliopolis " — also anonymously. From his 
post of professor at Jena he was dismissed on a charge of 
atheism. But now that the day of need had come, he was 
suddenly appealed to, to rouse the youth of Germany. As 
every one is aware, his Reden an die Deutsche Nation (" Ad- 
dresses to the German Nation " ) surpassed all expeo 

1 Ruge, Werke, ii. 60, &c 



298 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

It had been no bad idea, this thrusting of the German flag 
into the hand of the persecuted philosopher. At the Uni- 
versity of Berlin, with French bayonets gleaming outside the 
windows and French drums drowning his words, he delivered 
the memorable addresses which sounded the reveille in the 
ears of Germany, and did their part in driving those drums 
and bayonets out of the country. For from these lectures a 
general and powerful revulsion of feeling may be dated. In 
them Fichte's philosophy became a kind of national poetry. 
And what wonder that this poetry proved a torch, at 
which many other poetical torches were kindled — Korner's, 
Schenkendorf's, and Arndt's among the rest ? 

The long-prepared-for war broke out in 1813, and ended, 
after various vicissitudes, in the downfall of foreign rule. 
But the War of Liberation, as it was called, has two 
aspects. It was a revolt against a monstrous tyranny, but a 
tyranny which represented many of the ideas of the Revolu- 
tion. It was a war for hearth and home, but waged at the 
command of the old dynasties. The revolutionary tyranny 
was opposed in the interest of reactionary princes. More- 
over, even in the ardour with which the struggle was main- 
tained, there were two very different elements, which 
were so closely commingled that in the beginning it 
occurred to no one to distinguish between them, but 
which soon betrayed their opposite characters. The one 
element was national hatred of the French people — the 
national prejudice which seems to be inseparably connected 
with patriotism, and which led in this case to enthusiasm 
for everything German and contempt for everything French. 
The other element was pure love of freedom — the determi- 
nation to attain political independence, to fight, not only in 
the name of Germany, but in the name of humanity, for 
human rights and privileges. 

This dual feeling may be traced even in Fichte's ad- 
dresses. He affirmed that only a people that had been a 
people from of old, a people that understood the depths of 
its own spirit, its own language, i.e. itself, could be free, and 
the liberators of the world ; " and" he added, u the Germans 
are such a people" Teutonic national arrogance lay dormant 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 299 

in these words. And the seed soon began to grow. The 
young, healthy love of freedom found expression in Theodor 
Horner's bold lyrics. It was Schiller's lyre that he touched, 
but the genius of a new era had tuned its strings in a new 
key. The patriotism of a whole group of other poets took 
the form of enthusiasm for the German Empire and a Ger- 
man Emperor, that is to say, for the Germany of the Middle 
Ages ; and these made the glories of the past their theme. 
Max von Schenkendorf sang mournfully and longingly of 
the days when — 

M Die hohen adligen Gestalten 
Am Rheinstrom auf and nieder wallten," * 

and when predatory nobles ruled town and country from 
their fortified castles. He wrote odes to the old cathedrals, 
groped with tremulous awe among the skeletons of saints 
and knights buried in their chapels. 

One of the most famous of the patriotic poets was Ernst 
Moritz Arndt. With Arndt hatred of everything French 
became a fixed idea. His Geist der Zeit ("Spirit of the 
Times"), the first part of which appeared in 1806, had a 
very powerful influence on the minds of his countrymen. 
And while he was writing his manly, vigorous songs in 
praise of freedom, he was also occupied in attacking the 
French language and French fashions; he even went the 
length of attempting to introduce a German national dress. 
At this same moment, Jahn, the famous introducer of gym- 
nastics, the " Turnvater," as he is called, was earnestly 
engrossed with the idea of making the whole youth of 
Germany fit for war by means of physical exercises. In 
1 81 1, at Hasenhaide, near Berlin, he started his school of 
gymnastics ; but previous to this, following Arndt's example, 
he had published writings, in which, in affectedly violent 
language, he tried to inflame the spirit of patriotism. The 
old German mythology and heroic sagas, Hermann and the 
Teutoburgerwald, Wodan and the Druids, the sacred oaks, 
the divine primitive German warrior in his boldness and un- 
couthness, his unkempt hair flowing over his shoulders and 

1 " When men of noble, knightly mien trod the banks of the Rhine." 9 
VOL. II. U 



3 oo THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a club grasped in his gigantic fists, were anew elevated to 
the place of honour. German uncouthness was supposed 
to testify to German morality. 

It was not long till all these patriotic ideas and enter- 
prises were pressed into the service of reaction. The object 
of worship became, not the freedom that was to be 
won, but Germany's vanished past. Men began to study 
the history of their country with an ardour with which 
it had never been studied before, and a keen eye for 
all peculiarly German traits. With the brothers Grimm 
at their head, they turned their attention to the history 
and grammar of their own language, and in this domain, 
as in every other, fell foolishly in love with the past 
and its childish naivete. Important as the results of 
these investigations have been to science, it is certain that 
in Germany they produced some of the worst enemies of 
liberty, men who sided with the past against the present 

The patriotic and the religious party soon made common 
cause. French immorality had been confronted with a 
peculiarly German morality ; now French free-thought was 
confronted with a peculiarly German Christianity. Because 
the religion of Germany's enemies paid homage to the 
human mind, with its lucidity and freedom, the religion 
of Germany was to be ecclesiastical Christianity, with its 
obscurity and tyranny. Believing that they were becoming 
more religious, they in reality became less so. For it is 
an indisputable truth, one that holds good in all ages and 
all countries, that, true religion being enthusiasm for tk 
living spirit and idea of the times, as yet unrealised by th 
many, he who is filled with that living spirit will scon 
irreligious, but really be religious, whilst he who is filled 
with the spirit or faith of a bygone, a defunct age, will be I 
most irreligious, but seem and be called religious. 

The immature intellects of the War of Liberate I 
were caught in the snares of Romanticism. It is signifi- 
cant that men who, like Arndt and Gorres, were reganW 
as the champions of liberty, soon began to express most 
anti-liberal opinions. Arndt made a bitter attack upoa 
what he called industrialism, *.*., modern industrial coo- 1 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 301 

editions, as opposed to the old guild system, and was loud 
in his condemnation of machinery and steam, which 
robbed human feet of their right (to walk), the labourer 
of his work, and mountain and valley of their meaning. 
He was anxious that any future additions to the ranks of 
the aristocracy should be prevented by the inscription of all 
noble names in a final roll, a " golden book ; " and he ad- 
vocated entail and primogeniture as the one sure defence 
against the general break-up of society by an inundation of 
the proletariat. Gorres, who for a time retained some re- 
membrance of the days when he edited Das rothe Blatt, 
ultimately became the author of Christian Mysticism, and such 
a fierce reactionary that he attacked the pietistic policy 
of Prussia as not sufficiently thorough-going, and brought 
on himself a reproof from Leo XII. 

The Christian-Germanic reaction which was one of the 
results of the War of Liberation found very characteristic 
literary expression in a series of tales by a nobleman who 
had fought in the war as a cavalry officer, Baron de la Motte 
Fouqu6. Fouqu£ is principally known to the reading world at 
large by his charming little story, Undine. As a specimen of 
Romantic " Naturpoesie " at its best, this tale is only inferior 
to Tieck's Elfenmdrchen ("The Elves"). But Undine is 
the one really living figure which Fouqu6 has produced. 
The cause of his success in this case probably lay in the 
fact that he was depicting a being who was only half 
human, half an element of nature — a wave, spray, the cool 
freshness and wild movement of water — a being without 
a soul. Until Undine has given herself to the Knight, 
she stands in some magic relationship to the restless, soul- 
less sea ; it is she who flings its spray against the window, 
and makes it rise until the peninsula is changed into an 
island, and the Knight is a captive in the fisherman's 
hut. Fouqu6, who was a poet without being a psycho- 
logist, found a subject exactly suited to his imagina- 
tive talent in this being, which corresponded to one 
of the elements, and hence itself consisted of but one 
life-element. (It was in Undine's image that Hans Christian 
, Andersen created "The Little Mermaid.") The bridal 



302 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

night brings a soul to Undine, and she is changed into 
the model German wife, obedient, tender, and sentimental. 
Her husband's harshness kills her. In her magnanimity 
she has caused the castle well to be covered with an 
enormous stone, in order to block up the only way by 
which her uncle, the water-spirit, Kuhleborn, can enter 
the castle and avenge her. When, despite every warning, 
the Knight is faithless and marries again, and his arrogant 
bride has the stone removed from the well, inexorable fate 
compels Undine to rise out of its depths and bring him 
death in a kiss. Although the theme is genuinely medieval 
(borrowed, in fact, from Paracelsus, whose theory of the 
elemental spirits is founded upon old popular beliefs), and 
although in the course of its elaboration the author often 
relapses into sentimental piety, yet, to its decided advantage, 
a fresh pagan note is predominant in the story. Undine's 
originality lies in her pagan nature, as it reveals itself before 
she is baptized ; and there is something genuinely Greek in 
the idea of its not being the skeleton with the scythe which 
comes for the dying man, but an elemental spirit which 
brings him death in a loving kiss. 

But at the same time that Fouqul was embodying such 
originality and genius as he possessed in this little tale, he 
was also, under the influence of the great national movement, 
projecting the long series of romances of chivalry which 
began with Der Zauberring ("The Magic Ring"), published in 
1 815. To the romantic reactionaries The Magic Ring be- 
came a sort of gospel. Nobles and squires saw themselves 
reflected in all these old burnished shields and coats of mail, 
and rejoiced at the sight. But it was not a faithful historical 
picture which Fouqu6 exhibited. His age of chivalry is 
an imaginary age, in which stately, high-born men, clad in 
armour of burnished silver or of some dull metal inlaid 
with gold, and wearing silver helmets, plumed or un- 
plumed, or iron helmets surmounted by golden eagles' 
wings, the visors sometimes raised, sometimes lowered, 
ride forth upon fiery chargers of all breeds and all colours, 
shiver each other's lances, and yet sit as if moulded in the 
saddle, or else fall to the earth only to rise as quick as 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 303 

lightning and draw a two-edged sword. The knights are 
proud and brave, the faithful squires give their lives for 
their masters, the slender demoiselles award the prizes at 
the tourneys, and love their knights " ntinniglich" Every- 
thing is ordered according to the exact prescriptions of 
the book of the laws of chivalry. 

Everything is conventional — first and foremost, the 
mawkish, languishing style, supposed to be peculiarly 
adapted to the glorification of this high-born society. 
Only examples can give any idea of it. Bertha, sitting 
by a rivulet, sees her reflection in the water. " Bertha 
blushed so brightly that it seemed as if a star had been 
kindled in the water." " They sang a morning song so sweet 
and pleasurable that it seemed as though the setting sun 
must rise again, drawn by the yearning harmonies." There 
is a plentiful use of embellishing adjectives : " The youth's 
heart burned with charming (antnutig) curiosity." "Two 
crystal-clear drops fell from the eyes of the old knight." 
Great importance is attached to the description of splendid 
clothes and armour and ornaments : " He was beautiful to 
look upon in his armour of the darkest blue steel, magnifi- 
cently chased and ornamented with gold ; beautiful were 
his dark brown hair, his trim moustache, and the fresh 
young mouth smiling below it, disclosing two rows of pearly 
white teeth." A noble lady, pouring forth the tale of her 
misfortunes, takes time to interlard it with descriptions like 
the following : " I paced distractedly up and down my 
room, would hear nothing of the games in which the other 
noble maidens invited me to take part in the evening, and 
impatiently waved my maid away when she brought me a 
beautiful fishing-rod, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, with a golden 
line and silver hook." It is strange that the inhabitants of a 
world where all utensils seem to be made of mother-of-pearl, 
gold, and silver, should think it necessary specially to men- 
tion that the gift offered her was composed of these peerless 
materials. 

The emotions are of the same material, all mother-of- 
pearl and cloth of gold — not one breath of unrestrained 
natural feeling, not one action dictated by pure, unreflect- 



3 o 4 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

ing passion. All the emotions and passions are as care- 
fully trained as the knights' chargers. We know beforehand 
how everything will happen. The knights talk to and treat 
each other with that distinguished courtesy which is peculiar 
to the privileged classes. One of them inadvertently lets fall 
a word (about a lady or a joust) which makes it necessary 
for another to challenge him to mortal combat. Without 
showing a trace of petty rancour or ill-feeling, the two 
combatants arm and leap on their snorting chargers ; their 
attendants form a circle round them, holding torches if it 
is night, and they thrust and hew at each other with all 
their might. When the one sinks bleeding to the earth, the 
other throws himself down beside him and binds his wounds 
with brotherly tenderness and practised surgical skill; then 
he gives him his arm, and they march off together, their 
armour clanking bravely. — It is an attempt to resolve the 
whole rich life of the human soul into a few conventional 
elements — honour, loyalty, devout and humble love. 

In combination with these fine feelings we have the 
greatest contempt for all except the privileged classes. The 
hero, Sir Otto, is at a masquerade at the house of his friend, 
the young merchant, Tebaldo. A troupe of mummers 
appear and give a performance. In one of the scenes a 
warrior in armour comes on the stage, bows to Plutus, the 
god of wealth, and repeats the following lines : — 

" Fur Beulen Silber, Gold fur Blut 
Herr, gieb Dein Gut, so schlag ich gut" * 

11 Plutus was about to give some ingenious answer, but 
Otto von Trautwangen rose in wrath, laid his hand on 
his sword and cried : ' Yonder knave disgraces his armour, 
and I will prove it on his head, if so be he has the courage 
to meet me.' Half amused, half alarmed, the company 
gazed at the wrathful young knight, while Tebaldo angrily 
dismissed the astounded mummers, upbraiding them with 
the baseness of their shameful inventions, and forbidding 
them to enter his house again. Hereupon, blushing with 

i " SiWcr for bruises, gold for blood ! Pay me well, Plutus, and 1*11 right well 
for you." 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 305 

shame, he returned to Otto, and in well-chosen, courtly 
words prayed his guest not to lay it to his charge that the 
scurvy crew had thought to flatter the rich merchant by 
thus outrageously comparing his calling with that of arms." 
The same evening Otto meets at his inn a certain Sir Arch- 
imbald, and is seized by the fancy to exchange armour with 
him , " which, methinks, we may readily do, since we are 
both of the old High-German heroic stature." In exchange 
for his coat of silver mail Otto receives a black one. An 
entire change comes over him with the change of armour, 
which does not surprise us when we remember the important 
part dress plays throughout. As a matter of fact, these 
knights are not much more than stuffed suits of armour. 
They affect one much as do the figures one sees riding upon 
armoured wooden horses in the Tower of London or the 
great armoury in Dresden. 

From the description of one of Otto's earliest single com- 
bats we gain an idea of the extraordinary influence attributed 
to attire. His opponent, Sir Heerdegen, wears a rusty suit 
of armour, and his rusty voice shouts from behind the bars of 
his rusty helmet : " Bertha 1 Bertha ! " while from Otto's silver 
helmet comes in silvery tones the cry: " Gabriele ! Gabriele 1 " 
When Otto goes back to Tebaldo in his new armour, he has 
become so much handsomer and more manly, that the 
young merchant, who happens at the moment to be measur- 
ing costly fabrics in his storehouse, is almost ashamed to 
appear before him. "Then Otto von Trautwangen raised 
his visor. Tebaldo, half affrighted, fell back, exclaiming: 
1 heavens ! how you have gained in dignity even since 
yesterday ! And here must I stand before you with an ell-wand 
in my hand I ' Thereupon he flung his beautiful measuring 
rod against a pillar, shattering it into fragments. It was made 
of ivory and gold, and his servants could not but believe 
that this had happened by mischance." They attempt to 
console their master, but he does not listen to them ; all his 
desire now is to give up his merchant's calling and be allowed 
to follow Otto as his squire. May not something very like all 
this be observed to-day in the mutual feelings and demeanour 
of a Prussian cavalry officer and a Prussian merchant ? 



306 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

This literature is really literature for cavalry officers. 
The horses are the only creatures in the book whose psycho- 
logy Fouqu6 has successfully mastered, and this for the 
same reason that he was successful with Undine, namely, 
that it is elementary psychology. In the romances of our 
Danish author, Ingemann, the milk-white palfrey and the 
steel-clad black charger also play important parts. When 
the Lord High Constable is shown us attired in a scarlet 
cloak edged with ermine and a white-plumed hat, mounted 
on a tall iron-grey stallion, his swarthy little squire standing 
beside him holding the bridle of a nimble, restless Norwegian 
pony, the author has exhausted all his capacity of character 
drawing. In the description of the tall iron-grey stallion 
and the nimble little Norwegian pony we have life-like por- 
traits of the Lord High Constable and his squire. 

It is exactly the same with Fouqu6. Sir Folko's horse 
is described as a slender-necked, light-footed, silver-grey 
stallion. "At a signal from his rider he approached 
Gabriele and bent his forelegs, then leaped into the air and 
caracoled so lightly back to his place that he seemed to be 
flying, the golden bells on his harness ringing sweet chimes. 
Perfectly still and obedient he stood, only turning his beau- 
tiful head, under its rich trappings, to look caressingly and 
inquiringly at his master, as if asking : ' Have I done well V* 
— Gallantry, sense of honour, loyalty ! What more is there 
in the knights themselves ? 

"Sir Archimbald's steed presented a strange contrast 
Flecked with white foam, rearing and kicking, he seemed to 
be about to break the silver chain by which two men-at-arms 
were holding him back with all their might. His eyes 
flamed so fiercely that they might well be likened to burn- 
ing torches, and with his right forefoot he pawed the earth 
as though he were digging a grave for his master's enemies." 
— Audacious valour, ardent longing for the fight, indomitable 
strength 1 What is there more in the knights ? 

Sir Otto's father presents him with a horse. "The 
youth, hastening down, saw a crowd of men-at-arms col- 
lected round a bright brown horse with golden trappings. 
1 Mount,' said his father, ' and make essay if so noble an 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 307 

animal is content to be your property.' Then the young 
knight Otto von Trautwangen, controlling the animal with 
a powerful hand, put him through his paces in such a 
manner that the soldiers, filled with astonishment, felt assured 
that the noble steed must recognise his destined master, 
and that in the knight's power over him there lay some 
strange significance. Sir Otto sprang from his horse and 
threw himself into his father's arms. Then the charger 
snorted and kicked wildly at the retainers who grasped at 
his bridle, and, breaking away from them, followed his young 
master and laid his head caressingly upon his shoulder." — 
Invincibility until the destined master, he whose power 
over the heart is felt to be " of strange significance," appears, 
and from that moment onwards absolute devotion and the 
most tender caresses ! What else, what more is there in 
Fouqu6's young maidens of high degree ? 

It was the fault of the sea-king Arinbjorn that, at the 
critical moment, Otto lost his beloved and the magic ring. 
Arinbjorn is riding along a solitary road. A wild bay 
stallion comes galloping up and makes a furious attack upon 
the sea-king's horse, and throws him down before his rider 
can spring from the saddle. Man and horse, lying in a 
confused heap, are mercilessly kicked by the furious stallion. 
When we know that the following extraordinary speech of 
Otto's is made of so sagacious and devoted a horse as this, 
it does not astonish us so much as it otherwise might: 
" My horse's colour makes him specially dear to me. For 
this bright brown is in my eyes a colour of angelic beauty ; 
my blessed mother had great, bright brown eyes, and, as all 
heaven looked out of them, the colour has always seemed 
to me like a greeting from heaven." 

Thus does the psychology of the romance of chivalry 
culminate — psychology of the patrician, or psychology of 
the horse, call it which you will. In its portraiture of 
knights hailing from all the ends of the earth, The 
Magic Ring, as Gottschall aptly remarks, confines itself 
to primary types of humanity and the colouring produced 
by the sun — we are able to distinguish a Moor from a 
Finn. This book was followed by many others of the 



308 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

same description, amongst which Die Fahrten Thiodolfs des 
Isldnders ("The Expeditions of Thiodolf the Icelander") 
is the best known. Thiodolf had been forecast by an 
earlier work of Fouqu6's, the great trilogy, Der Held des 
Nordens ("The Hero of the North"), which consists of 
Sigurd the Serpent Slayer, Sigurd s Revenge, and Aslauga. Der 
Held des Nordens is dedicated to Fichte, and is evidently 
inspired by the enthusiasm which he had aroused for the 
olden days of Germany, and for everything characteristically 
national. The three lyrical-rhetorical " reading-dramas " of 
which it consists are written in iambics; and where the 
language becomes particularly impressive or impassioned, 
short lines are employed, the rhythm and alliteration of 
which are intended to recall the old Northern metre. The 
general impression is much the same as that produced by 
the texts of such of Richard Wagner's operas as deal with 
the legends of the North. 

The verse, though sometimes laboured, generally rings 
well, the sentiments are noble and chivalrous, the great- 
ness portrayed is superhuman, yet puerile, the light is 
not the light of day. The hero's bodily strength and 
endurance are prodigious. He splits an anvil with one 
blow ; he climbs the outer wall of a high tower, and, when 
he has looked in at the topmost casement and seen all that 
he wishes to see, jumps lightly down again. Intellectually 
he is less remarkable. 

Of this dramatised version of the Volsung Saga Heine 
writes : " Sigurd the Serpent Slayer is a spirited work, in 
which the old Scandinavian Saga, with its giants and its 
witchcraft, is reflected. The hero, Sigurd, is a mighty figure. 
He is as strong as the Norwegian cliffs, and as wild as 
the sea that breaks upon them. He has the courage of 
a hundred lions and the wit of two asses." We may 
take this last remark as applying to all Fouqu6's knightly 
figures. They are all national portraits, like those we read 
of in Brentano's story, Die Mehreren WehmUller, those thirty- 
nine Hungarian types, painted by the artist before he went 
to Hungary, from amongst which every one afterwards 
selected his own portrait. In Arnim's and Brentano's 



ROMANTIC LITERATURE AND POLITICS 309 

writings everything is specialised and characteristic, the 
situations as well as the personalities ; here everything is 
generalised. A king is always a hero or a stage-king ; a 
queen is either dark and haughty or gentle and fair, &c, 
&c. The general type is there once for all ; the individual 
features of the " national portraits " are added later. 

The national type, of course, varies with the country. 
In Denmark, under Frederick VI., the romance of chivalry 
is patriotic and loyal. In Germany, after the War of Libera- 
tion, it is patriotic and aristocratic. In The Magic Ring we 
read : " The Stranger had seen much of the world, but had 
remained a true, pious German ; nay, it was in foreign 
lands that he had become one ; for distance had revealed 
to him what a glorious country that old Germany was." 

In both countries the political tendency of Romanticism 
is the same. 



XVII 

ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 

In his Christian Mysticism (ii. 39) Gdrres tells us that one 
of the most noticeable characteristics of a body which, 
through regeneration, has attained to higher harmony, is the 
fragrance it exhales. "Just as a foul odour is indicative of 
diseased and discordant organic life, so inward harmony is 
revealed by the fragrance which proceeds from it. There- 
fore the expression, 'the odour of sanctity/ is by no means 
merely figurative ; it is derived from countless well-estab- 
lished instances of sweet odour emanating from persons 
who lead a holy life." And he quotes numbers of authentic 
examples of this. 

If Gdrres is right — and I cast no doubt on his assertion 
— then the personages to whom, in conclusion, I would 
direct attention for a moment must have exhaled a most 
fragrant odour, for they are personages with whom both be 
and the Church were well pleased. All that is now wanting to 
complete the picture of the Romantic group, is a characteri- 
sation of the men who transferred the principles of Roman- 
ticism from the domain of literature into that of practical 
life and politics. Gdrres himself may be taken as the re- 
presentative of Romantic ecclesiasticism, and Friedrich Gentz 
as in all respects the most interesting of the politicians 
proper. 

Joseph Gorres was born in the Rhine district in 1776. 
He sat on the same school-bench with Clemens Brentano. 
At the time when the French armies overran Germany he 
was completely carried away by the revolutionary move- 
ment. Before he had even begun his university studies, 
he became a member of the Jacobin Club in his native 

town, Coblentz, distinguished himself by his championship 

310 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 311 

of the ideas of liberty, and, in Das rothe Blatt ("The Red 
Journal"), provided the German revolutionary party with 
an organ. To him the past was detestable, France the 
promised land, and the rest of the world the domain of 
slavery. 

When, in 1798, the French army marched into Rome, 
Gdrres was loud in his rejoicings over the fall of the city 
and the collapse of the temporal power of the Pope. He 
writes in The Red Journal: " We will tear the mask from 
ecclesiasticism, and set healthy ideas in circulation every- 
where. We too have sworn eternal hatred to priestcraft and 
monasticism, and work for the good of the people. We 
at the same time work for the monarchs, by proving their 
inutility and helping to relieve them from the burden of 
government." 

His style is youthfully audacious and witty, a genuine 
demagogue and journalist style. But in his scorn we dis- 
tinguish a certain fanaticism, which, like all fanaticism, is 
significant of the possibility of a complete revulsion. When 
the transactions of the Congress of Rastadt had made it easy 
to forecast the abolition of the three spiritual electorates, 
of bishoprics, abbacies, &c, Gdrres advertised in his paper, 
under the heading of " For Sale," the following wares : " A 
whole cargo of seed of the tree of liberty, the flowers of 
which make the best bouquets for princes and princesses. 
• • . 12,000 human cattle, well broken in, who can shoot, 
cut and thrust, wheel to the right and wheel to the left. A 
splendid drilling with cudgel and lash, for twelve years, has 
brought them to the point of allowing themselves to be shot 
dead for their masters without so much as a grumble. . . • 
Three electoral mitres of finely tanned buffalo hide. The 
croziers belonging to the same are loaded with lead, 
conceal daggers, and are decorated with artificial serpents. 
The eye of God on the top is blind." 
^ In December 1799 the French occupied Mayence for 
the second time. When the news reached Coblentz, Gorres 
wrote his wild song of triumph over the collapse of the 
Roman-German Empire : " At three o'clock in the afternoon 
of the 30th December 1799, the day of the crossing of the 



312 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

Maine, the Holy Roman Empire, of ever foolish memory, 
passed peacefully away at the advanced age of 955 years, 
5 months, and 28 days ; the cause of death was apoplexy 
and complete exhaustion, but the illustrious deceased 
departed in full consciousness and comforted with all the 
sacraments of the Church. . . • The deceased was born in 
Verdun, in June 842 (843). At the moment of his birth a 
comet (PerrOckenAomet), pregnant with disaster, was flaming 
in the zenith. The boy was brought up at the courts of 
Charles the Simple, Louis the Child, and their successors, 
• . . But his inclination to a sedentary life, combined with 
an excess of religious ardour, weakened his already feeble 
constitution . • . and at the age of about 250, at the time 
of the Crusades, he became quite imbecile," &c, &c. 

Gdrres here strikes the note which we hear again a 
generation later in Borne's Letters from Paris. 

He contemptuously opens and reads the will of the de- 
ceased, according to which the French Republic inherits the 
left bank of the Rhine, His Excellency, General Bonaparte, 
being appointed executor. 

This was Gdrres 9 stormy youthful period. By the year 
1800 he was beginning to withdraw from active politics, a visit 
to Paris having cured him of his sympathy with Frenchmen. 
But he was still an ardent progressionist, dreading nothing 
so much as a return to the past, which would mean a 
crushing tyranny (harsher after long abeyance and partly 
justified by existing circumstances), the rehabilitation of the 
priesthood, and combined political and religious reaction. 
The oppression of foreign rule aroused his patriotic feeling. 
At the university of Heidelberg he entered upon his Roman- 
tic period. He lectured on the nature of poetry and philo- 
sophy, waxed enthusiastic over the Nibelungenlied, studied 
ancient German history, poetry, and legend. He met his 
old schoolfellow, Clemens Brentano, became intimate with 
Arnim, and came into contact with Tieck and the brothers 
Schlegel and Grimm. It was at Heidelberg that he pub- 
lished his Kindtrmythen ("Child Myths"), Die Deutschen 
VolksbUcher ("The National Literature of Germany"), and 
his collection of old German Volkslieder and Meisterlieder. 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 313 

It was not only national feeling which the Romantic 
movement aroused in Gdrres ; it induced an almost equally 
strong feeling of cosmopolitanism, under the influence of 
which he took up the study of Persian, a hitherto neglected 
language, and, almost unassisted, attained such proficiency 
in it that he was able to produce a tasteful prose translation 
of Firdusi's epic poetry. 

In 1 81 8 he went to Berlin as spokesman of a deputation 
from the town of Coblentz. He boldly urged the king to 
fulfil the promise of a constitution given at the time of the 
War of Liberation, and his daring was rewarded with dis- 
grace and several years of exile. 

Until 1824 Gdrres continued to be, to all intents and 
purposes, the Romantic German patriot. From that year 
until his death in 1848, he is the champion of the clerical 
reaction. In his Deutschland und die Revolution (1820) the 
tendency to Catholicism is already distinct ; in it he charac- 
terises the Reformation as "a second Fall." He became 
absorbed in the study of the history of the Middle Ages, and 
began to regard the Church as the only power capable of 
satisfactorily defending the liberty of the people from the 
encroachments of absolutism. Soon, under the influence of 
Brentano and Franz Baader, he became a believer in visions 
and bigotedly religious. Clemens Brentano was at this 
time, like Apollonius of Tyana in days of old, exercising a 
powerful influence upon a generation predisposed to theo- 
sophical extravagances ; and Mme. de Krudener was found- 
ing the Holy Alliance. 

As early as 1826, Joseph de Maistre declares that Gorres, 
as author of Der Kampf der Kirchenfreiheit ntit der Staatsgewali 
in der Katholischen Schweiz ( u The Struggle of the Church with 
State Despotism in Catholic Switzerland "), has championed 
the cause of the Church with both genius and justice, and 
yet more boldly and effectually than it has ever been done 
before. Such praise from such lips carries weight ; it indi- 
cates, moreover, that we have reached the point at which 
German Romanticism passes into French, or rather, general 
European reaction. 

In 1827 Gorres published a work which is of interest as 



3 i4 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

forming a prelude to his Mysticism, namely, Emanuel Swede* 
borg, his Visions and his Relations to the Church. 

In 1833 Clemens Brentano moved to Munich, where 
Gorres had already settled. The old school friends met 
once more, and Brentano's influence over Gorres was great 
Brentano was now entirely given over to superstitious fanati- 
cism. Even Schelling's new philosophy of revelation was 
not pious enough for him. Talking with some young theo- 
logians, he shouted : " It is of no use praising it to me I One 
drop of holy water is more precious to me than the whole 
of Schelling's philosophy." He had brought all his memo- 
randa of Catharina Emmerich's visions and outpourings to 
Munich with him ; he no longer needed the Gospels ; from 
her he had learned more of Christ's sayings and journeyings 
than is to be found in the Scriptures. The saint had even 
revealed a map of Palestine to him. Gorres was soon as 
firm a believer in miracles and myths as Brentano. Be- 
tween 1836 and 1842 he wrote the four volumes of his 
Mysticism, the most insane book produced by German 
Romanticism. 

The farther Gorres penetrated into the mysteries of 
witchcraft and sorcery, the more fanciful and peculiar did 
he himself become. He believed that he was possessed by 
an evil spirit. On one occasion he complained that the 
devil, provoked by his interference in Satanic affairs, had 
stolen one of his manuscripts ; it was, however, found some 
time afterwards in his bookcase. 

When the religious disturbances broke out in Cologne, 
Gdrres came forward as the spokesman of the Ultramontanes 
in their dispute with the Prussian Ministry. His passionate 
diatribes against Protestantism were couched in Biblical 
language — his opponents were a brood of vipers, the 
Prussian State was possessed by an evil spirit, &c. This 
particular demon he describes as a horrible ghost, " whom 
it is honouring too much to call a spirit ; " it is, he says, 
the ghost of the demon which in the Prussian army of our 
grandfathers' days handled the whip which flogged seven 
backs at a time. 

Gdrres won the admiration of Count Montalembert the 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 315 

leader of the French Catholics, by his polemical feats. In 
Catholic Germany he was regarded as a father of the Church, 
and called u the Catholic Luther." He succeeded in drawing 
the Bavarian Government into the movement; the oppo- 
nents of the Protestant Prussian Government were allowed 
to publish their lucubrations unchecked in the Bavarian 
press, and it was Gorres* hope that Bavaria, as an important 
Catholic power, would openly take up the contest. 

No expression of politico-religious fanaticism was too out- 
rageous for him. He went the length of declaring that the 
Government, by permitting mixed marriages, compelled the 
Catholic parent to bring up " twofold bastards " — and this 
in the face of the fact that the King of Bavaria was the son 
of a Protestant mother and had married a Protestant wife. 

At the time of the violent dispute as to the authenticity 
of the coat of the Saviour preserved at Treves, Gorres was 
highly delighted with the success of a pilgrimage to Treves, 
which was promptly organised, and in which the Rhine- 
landers, to the number of a million, took part, in order to 
annoy the Protestant Prussians. To him this pilgrimage 
was " the triumph of the victorious Church." The argu- 
ment that the holy garment could not be genuine, seeing 
that several other places possessed similar coats, he dis- 
missed with a reference to the miraculous multiplication of 
loaves recorded in the New Testament. 1 

The Romantic literary theory that manner is something 
absolutely independent of matter, was a theory put into 
practice in politics by Friedrich von Gentz. We called 
Kleist the German M6rim6e ; for several reasons Gentz 
might be called the German Talleyrand. In his mature 
years he might, like Metternich, have written under his own 
portrait : " Nur kein Pathos ! " (" Anything except pathos ! ") 
He is the very embodiment of Romantic irony, the incarnate 
spirit of Lucinde. He does not, however, become a typical 
figure until he is over forty, at the time when a period of 
diplomatic activity succeeded to revolutionary upheavals and 
the Napoleonic wars, the time when the watchword was reac- 
tion, that is to say, quiet — quiet at any price, extinction of all 

1 Sepp, Gorres und seint Zatgenosstn y Nordlingen, 1897. 
VOL. II. X 



J 



316 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the European conflagrations, and rest, profound rest for 
the sick, the weary, and the convalescent peoples ; when 
consequently, as in a sick room, the great aim was to get 
rid as quietly as possible of disturbers of the peace and 
prevent all noise and uproar. "Gentz," says Gottschall, 
"understood how to give to the official publications that 
indescribable polish, that classic smoothness, that Olympian 
dignity which, untouched by the fate of mortals, allows no 
drop of nectar and ambrosia to be spilled from the cup of 
the gods, though blood may be flowing in torrents in the 
regions below. This distinguished manner of passing lightly 
over the small shocks by which nations were shattered into 
fragments, gave a complexion of mildness and grace to the 
despotic policy of the day. One heard only a puff, not a 
report ; it was the noiseless slaughter of the air-gun." 

To outward seeming, Legitimist principles were being 
vindicated ; in point of fact, their vindicators were not 
Legitimists when their interests bade them be the reverse. 
In them Goethe's words were fulfilled : u None are so 
Legitimist as those who can legitimise themselves/' The 
cause Gentz championed was a bad cause, but even the 
champion of a bad cause is interesting if possessed of 
remarkable talent. And Gentz was talented in an extra- 
ordinary degree. Varnhagen rightly said of him: u Never 
has the dust of German scholarship been stirred up with 
greater tclat; never has learning been displayed to such 
advantage." 

Friedrich von Gentz was born in Breslau in 1764. 
Both his parents belonged to the middle classes ; his future 
exalted position in society he owed entirely to his own 
ability. At the University of Kdnigsberg he applied himself 
seriously to the study of Kant's philosophy, at the same 
time cultivating an enthusiastic Platonic friendship for an 
unhappy young married woman, Elisabeth Graun. In 1786 
he went to Berlin, obtained a Government appointment, and 
made a mariage dt convenance with the daughter of a high 
official in the finance department. He plunged into a course 
of unbridled dissipation, and took part in all the foolish 
pleasures of a court "in which a repulsive assemblage of 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 317 

rou6s and bigoted women surrounded the old king, Frederick 
William II." 

In the midst of such a life as this he was surprised 
by the French Revolution. Its first effect was to fire him 
with youthful enthusiasm. " If this revolution were to fail," 
he wrote, " I should deem it one of the greatest misfortunes 
which has befallen mankind. It is the first practical triumph 
of philosophy, the first example of a form of government 
founded upon principles and a coherent system. It is hope 
and comfort for our race, which is groaning under so many 
ancient evils. Should this revolution fail, these evils will be 
more irremediable than before. I can picture so clearly to 
myself how the silence of despair would acknowledge, in 
defiance of reason, that men can only be happy as slaves, 
and how all tyrants, great and small, would take advan- 
tage of this dreadful acknowledgment to avenge themselves 
for the terror caused them by the awakening of the French 
nation." 

But the horrors which the French Revolution brought 
in its train soon caused him to change his mind. He 
suddenly became the ardent champion of the good old days. 
To combat the supremacy of public opinion and the follies 
of the masses became the object of his life. He was in- 
capable of seeing in the French Revolution the necessary 
outcome of centuries of wrong and ferment ; he declared 
the cause of its lawlessness to be "enlightenment," the 
inordinate cultivation of cold reason — a characteristically 
Romantic theory. 

No doubt there was a species of real development at the 
root of this change. The " rights of humanity," which he 
had so warmly defended in his treatise Ueber den Ursprung 
und die obersten Prinzipien des Rechts (" On the Origin and Main 
Principles of Rights "), now seemed to him only of importance 
to the statesman as " elementary preparatory studies." The 
theory of these rights appeared to him to stand in much the 
same relation to statecraft as the mathematical theory of 
projectiles does to bomb-throwing. And now, by slow 
degrees, he arrives at the narrow view that it is not 
the people, but the Government, which is the chief power 



318 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

the state. He regards the co-operation of the people in 
legislation as a mere form ; liberty has shrunk into willing 
glad obedience. 

Intercourse with Wilhelm von Humboldt, and the in- 
fluence of the aesthetic ideas of the period on the need 
for harmony between private and public life, somewhat 
softened the severity of these principles, and the English 
constitution became Gentz's ideal. When Frederick William 
III. ascended the throne, he actually felt impelled to present 
a petition to his Majesty, in which, in eloquent language, he 
called upon him to concede liberty of the press — the very 
liberty which he described a few years later as the source of 
all evil. The loyal Goethe was astounded by this attempt "to 
coerce " the sovereign, and as the King took no notice of 
the appeal, Gentz at once let the matter drop, and did his 
best to bury it in oblivion. From this time onward he was 
in the pay of England ; he did not exactly sell himself, but 
he accepted regular and considerable monetary rewards for 
his political activity in English interests. And Gentz needed 
money. He gambled for high stakes, and lived a life of 
perpetual dissipation and revelry with actresses and ballet- 
dancers. At times this was interrupted by fits of extreme 
sentimentality, when, as he writes, he lived " a pleasant, but 
still wild life" with his own wife. In April 1801 he notes 
in his diary : " Profound emotion over the death of a dog." 
During a visit to Weimar, where he met all the literary 
notabilities of the day, he became desperately enamoured of 
the poetess, Amalie von Imhoff, and made determined resolu- 
tions to lead a better life. But he had hardly returned to 
Berlin before he wrote : " Result of my Weimar resolutions 
— on December 23rd lost all I possessed at hazard." For 
a time he went on writing letters of six or eight sheets to 
Amalie von Imhoff; then he fell madly in love with the 
actress, Christel Eigensatz, and forgot everything else. 
u Maintenant cest le dilire complet" he writes in his diary. 
In the midst of all this, his wife leaves him and applies 
for a divorce. The evening she leaves, Gentz tries to forget 
the unpleasantness in playing trenie et quarante. When 
Berlin had for many reasons become disagreeable, nay, ifl- 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 319 

possible, he accepted the offer of an Austrian Government 
appointment in Vienna. Here he gradually surrendered all 
independence and became the tool of Metternich. 

But before this happened, Gentz had had his period of 
greatness. The apathy with which the Viennese accommo- 
dated themselves to French supremacy, to defeats and humilia- 
tions without end, roused all that there was of energy and 
genius in him. The burning hatred of Napoleon by which he 
was inspired made him for a short time, during their misfor- 
tunes and deep depression, the Demosthenes of the German 
people. But it was only independence that he so passionately 
desired, not liberty. In Napoleon thewhole Revolution seemed 
to him to be concentrated. Against him he would not have 
hesitated to employ even such a means as assassination. He 
strove with all his might to bring about a union between the 
German powers and to rouse the German people. But, true 
to his character, he appealed less to the people than to the 
chosen few in whose hands it seemed to him that the destiny 
of the people lay. His preface to the Political Fragments, his 
manifestoes and proclamations of war, are written with 
passionate vigour, in a fluent, magniloquent, and yet manly 
style, the rhetorical flourish of which is never in bad taste. 
Even the defeats of Ulm and Austerlitz did not crush him ; 
but it was with deep dejection that he observed the miser- 
able condition of affairs in Prussia before the battle of Jena. 
When Johannes von Muller, and others upon whom he had 
relied, allowed themselves to be flattered and won over by 
Napoleon, Gentz remained immovably firm. In the famous 
letter to Muller he makes scathing allusion to those " whose 
lives are an incessant capitulation." But when Austria gave 
up the struggle, and, as generally happens in such cases, 
frivolity and pleasure-seeking increased in proportion to the 
defeats and humiliations suffered by the country, Gentz too 
was soon so deeply entangled in the wild whirl of stupefying 
dissipations that, in his terrible pecuniary difficulties, he 
caught at an alliance with Metternich as a drowning man 
at a plank. The influence on a character like his of the man 
whom Talleyrand called the " weekly politician," because his 
range of vision never extended beyond that period, and whom 



x/ 



320 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

a distinguished Russian called "varnished dust/' was no happy 
one. 

Henceforward Gentz's letters are full of complaints of 
"such mental lassitude, despondency, emptiness, and in- 
difference " as he had hitherto neither known nor imagined, 
and which he aptly describes as a " sort of intellectual con- 
sumption/' He calls himself " damnably blas6." tl Believe 
me," he writes to Rahel, " I am damnably blas6. I have 
seen and enjoyed so much of the world that I am no 
longer influenced by its illusive grandeur and rewards." 
" Nothing delights me ; I am cold, blas£, contemptuous, 
thoroughly persuaded of the folly of almost every one else, 
unduly certain of my own — not wisdom — but clear-sighted- 
ness, and inwardly devilish glad that the so-called great 
doings are coming to such a laughable end." So indifferent 
has he become, that Napoleon's downfall, which he had 
formerly so ardently desired, arouses no deeper feeling in him 
than this. " I have become terribly old and bad," he himself 
confesses with an amiable effrontery which reminds us of 
Friedrich Schlegel, and which never deserted him. 

It is about this time that he begins to be persistently 
haunted by the fear of death ; he now regularly notes in 
his diary the exact degree to which the feeling is weigh- 
ing upon him. His letters betray all the weaknesses of 
a nervous woman. The correspondence between him 
and Adam Mailer is particularly ludicrous. We are never 
allowed to forget that they are both afraid of thunder. But 
even a letter is sometimes more than Gentz can bear. He 
writes to Miiller : " Your letters shatter my tender nerves." 
His fear of death most frequently took the form of fear 
of being murdered. After the assassination of Kotzebue 
by Sand, his terror lest he also might fall a victim to the 
hatred of the Liberal youth of Germany reached such a 
climax that the sight of a sharp knife was sometimes 
enough, as he himself confesses, to bring on a fainting-fit. 
In 1 8 14 he writes to Rahel: "Now, God be praised, all is 
at an end in Paris. I am, thank God, very well. I live 
sometimes at Baden, sometimes in Vienna, have sometimes 
brioches with exquisite butter for breakfast, sometimes 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 321 

other heavenly cakes. I have come into possession of 
furniture that makes my heart leap for joy, and I am far 
less afraid of death." 

He now looks to Gdrres as the only person who can 
write, he himself being incapable of any kind of produc- 
tion. Yet at this very time he occupies such an exalted 
position in society that he can deny himself to crowned 
heads. On the 31st of October, 1814, he writes in his 
diary : " Refusi k prince royal de Bav&re, le rot de Danetnark," 
&c. He meets Talleyrand, and admires him excessively. 
To give this admiration a practical direction, the astute 
French diplomatist presents him with 24,000 florins in 
the name of the King of France. At the close of 18 14 
Gentz writes in his diary : " The aspect of public affairs 
is melancholy. . . • But, since I have nothing to re- 
proach myself with, my accurate knowledge of the pitiful 
doings of all these petty beings who rule the world, so 
far from distressing, only serves to amuse me ; I enjoy it 
all like a play given for my private delectation/' Is not this 
like a speech of Jean Paul's Roquairol ? Tired of life, 
whatever disturbs his peace is objectionable to him. It is 
now his object to maintain the existing condition of things 
at any price. In 1815, in argument with Gorres, he 
actually defends the Peace of Paris. He was too saga- 
cious and cold, too great a hater of phrases, not to 
sneer at the "Burschenschaften" (students' leagues), the 
agitation for a national German dress, the Teuto- 
burgerwald enthusiasm, and others of the same descrip- 
tion ; nevertheless, the assassination of Kotzebue was 
made a pretext for forbidding the formation of patriotic 
societies, as further assassinations and crimes were 
feared. It was owing to Gentz's exertions that the uni- 
versities were placed under control and that the press was 
gagged. Of the liberty of the press he now writes : " I 
hold to my opinion, that, to prevent abuse of the press, 
nothing should be printed for a certain number of years. 
This as the rule, with a very few exceptions permitted 
by a thoroughly competent court, would in a short time 
lead us back to God and the truth." 



322 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

His utterances on the occasion of the Greek war of 
liberation prove that, in spite of his reactionary ardour, he 
had too much sense to believe, like Adam Muller and the 
rest, in the principle of legitimacy and the divine right 
of kings as revealed truths. He had written to Muller 
in 1818: "You are the only man in Germany of whom I 
say : He writes divinely when he chooses ; and nothing in 
our audacious days astonishes and exasperates me more 
than the audacity of those who dare to measure themselves 
with you. . . • Your system is a completed, rounded whole. 
It would be vain to attack it from any side. One can only 
be entirely in it or entirely outside of it. If you can prove 
to us, make comprehensible to us, that all real knowledge, 
all true understanding of nature, all good laws and social 
regulations, nay, even history itself (as you somewhere 
assert), are, and can only be, communicated to us by 
divine revelation, then (as far as I am concerned at least) 
you have gained the day. As long as you do not succeed 
in doing this, we stand afar off, admire you, love you, but 
are separated from you by an impassable gulf." It must 
be remembered that Adam Muller had gone the length of 
asserting that the existence of the Holy Trinity sufficiently 
proves that any national economical system based upon 
one single principle must be a wrong system. It even 
proves to him the necessity of the " Dreifelderwirthschaft " 
(triennal rotation of crops). Now, when Greece revolts, 
Gentz writes that the principle of legitimacy, being the pro- 
duction of time, must be modified by time, and makes the 
following noteworthy assertion : " I have always been aware 
that, in spite of the majesty and power of my employers, 
and in spite of all the single victories gained by us, the 
spirit of the times would in the long-run prove stronger 
than we are ; that the press, contemptible as it is in its 
excesses, would prove its superiority to all our wisdom; 
and that neither diplomatic art nor violence would be able 
to hold back the wheel of the world." 

In his sixty-fifth year, the worn-out, gouty, suffering 
old man was taken possession of by two passions strangely 
out of keeping with his age and the bent of his mind. 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 323 

It was a momentary return of youth. The one was 
for the famous ballet-dancer, Fanny Elsler, at that time 
a girl of nineteen. His infatuation for her knew no 
bounds. He writes : " I have won her simply and solely 
by the magic power of my love. Until she knew me she 
did not know that such love existed. • • . Think of the 
bliss of daily undisturbed intercourse with a being whose 
every attribute enraptures me ... in whose eyes, and 
hands, and every separate charm I can absorb myself for 
hours, whose voice bewitches me, and with whom I can 
carry on endless conversations ; for I am educating her 
with fatherly solicitude, and she is the aptest of pupils, a 
pupil who is at once my beloved and my child." 

The other surprising passion was for Heine's Buck der 
Lieder, then just published. It was all very well for the 
old reactionary to call the audacious poet a " crazy adven- 
turer;" he could not resist his sorcery. "I am still," he 
writes, " refreshing myself with the Buck der Lieder. Like 
Prokesch, I bathe for hours in these melancholy waters. 
Even the poems which verge upon actual blasphemy I cannot 
read without the most profound emotion ; I sometimes blame 
myself that I so often and gladly return to them." His 
receptive nature could not withstand them. He has rightly 
described himself as a woman. In a strain which reminds 
us of the hermaphroditic traits in Ludnde, he writes to 
Rahel : " Do you know the reason why the relation between 
us is such a perfect one? I will tell you. It is because 
you are an infinitely productive and I am an infinitely re- 
ceptive being : you are a great man ; I am the first of all 
the women who have ever lived." 

He. was now so nervous that a vigorous handclasp would 
alarm him; even the sight of a martial moustache was 
enough to disquiet him. In well-intentioned travellers who 
came to make his acquaintance he saw assassins in disguise. 
In the last year of his life his back was bent, his gait timorous 
and unsteady. The clear, sagacious eyes, for which he had 
been remarkable as a youth, were now, as it were, veiled by 
their furtive expression. In company he fortified himself 
by wearing large black spectacles. 



324 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

One day at a ffete, Fanny Elsler, presenting him with 
a foaming glass of champagne which she had tasted, said 
teasingly : " Der Krug geht so lange zu Wasser, bis er bricht" 
(German proverb — The pitcher goes often to the welJ, but 
comes home broken at last). Gentz replied : " It will any- 
how last out my time and Metternich's." His standpoint is 
indicated and judged in these words. 

In religious matters Gentz was extraordinarily vacillating. 
At one time he would declare that religion was to him simply 
a matter of politics ; at another, though he never actually 
went over to Catholicism, he would, in Romantic fashion, 
make great concessions to it He prostrated himself at the 
feet of the Catholic mystic, Adam Muller, who literally took 
Napoleon to be the devil incarnate (writing, for instance, 
to Gentz in July 1806, that "as Christians we must 
subdue the Bonaparte within us ") ; and, when petitioning 
the Emperor for an appointment in Austria, he gave as one 
of his reasons for leaving Prussia, " my long-felt enmity to 
Protestantism, in the original character and increasingly 
evil tendencies of which I believe I have discovered, after 
much and careful proving of the matter, the root of all tin 
corruption of our times, and one of the main causes of the decay 
of Europe? 

In politics he is the representative of unequivocal, con- 
scious reaction, and he does not, like some other hypocritical 
reactionaries, fight shy of the word. In a letter written at 
Verona in 1822, he relates that at a dinner-party at Metter- 
nich's he has just met Chateaubriand, who has been extremely 
amiable and complimentary to him. " In the course of con- 
versation he mentioned it as a remarkable phenomenon, one 
which could not possibly escape the notice of the historian, 
that four or five years ago, when the condition of Europe 
seemed quite hopeless, a mere handful of men — not more 
than could be counted on one's fingers — had determined to 
combat the Revolution, and that these men had been so 
successful that to-day they were taking the field, with 
Governments and armies supporting them, against the 
common enemy. As marking the most important moments 
in this bold reaction, he mentioned the founding of Le Conser- 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 325 

vateur, and the Congress of Karlsbad. He looks forward to 
the future with sanguine courage, regarding the victory of 
the good cause as certain. All true power and real talent 
are upon our side, contained in some ten or twelve heads. 
Nothing could be more dangerous for us than to attach too 
much importance to the attacks of the Revolutionaries, or 
to be in any way afraid of these said Revolutionaries, who, 
for all their uproar, are mere babblers. I could scarcely 
conceive, he added, how such men as Benjamin Constant, 
Guizot, and Royer-Collard had sunk in the public estimation. 
This and more he said, not with any fire and eagerness, but 
calmly and coldly." 

Gentz was far from guessing, when he penned these 
words, how great a surprise this same man held in store for 
him. Two years later the event occurred which forms 
the turning-point, the watershed, as it were, in the spiritual 
history of the first half of the century, namely, Chateau- 
briand's dismissal from the Ministry and entrance into the 
ranks of the Liberal opposition, whose leader he became. 
It was this event in combination with Byron's death, which 
happened about the same time, that called Liberalism through- 
out the whole world to arms. 

Gentz could not control his wrath. After the appearance 
of Chateaubriand's article in the Journal des Dibats on the 
abolition of the censorship, he wrote to a friend : " I sub- 
scribe to every word you say about Chateaubriand. It is 
long since anything has agitated and incensed me in the 
manner this really villainous article has done. It is the work 
of a man who, because he has not succeeded in disturbing 
the peace of his enemies with drums and pipes, grasps a 
torch and sets fire to the roof over their heads. Not that 
there is anything incomprehensible in such a performance, for 
Frenchmen are now at liberty to do whatever they please ; 
and the man who, in his vindictive antagonism, could imme- 
diately violate every sense of duty, honour, and decorum, 
as this monster did on the third day after his dismissal, was 
bound in the end, irritated by the feeling of his own impo- 
tence, to go as far as he could without running the risk of 
imprisonment — a risk practically non-existent in his country." 



326 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

But all Gentz's wrath could not check the current of 
events, and before long the reaction which he represents was 
struggling in its death throes. 

In a letter to Pilat, written in 1820, he writes: "What 
is Duller, what is La Mennais, what (with the excep- 
tion of Bonald) are all the writers of our day in com- 
parison with Maistre? His book On the Pope is, to my 
mind, the greatest and most important of the last half 
century. You have not read it, or you could not have 
failed to mention it. Take my advice— do not read it a 
b&tons rompus, amidst the noise and distractions with which 
you are constantly surrounded, but keep it for a time when 
you have unbroken quiet and can concentrate your 
thoughts. Your so-called friends must know the book, but 
not a word do they say of it. Such meat is too strong 
for these lukewarm, critical souls. It has cost me some 
sleepless nights, but what enjoyment have they not pur- 
chased me! Profundity of thought in combination with 
astonishing erudition and with political insight superior to 
Montesquieu's, the eloquence of a Burke, and an enthu- 
siasm which at times rises to the height of genuine poetry 
— to this add the characteristics of the man of the world, 
adroitness, refinement, the knack of sparing the feelings 
of the individual whilst treading his doctrines and opinions 
under foot, a prodigious knowledge of men and things — 
and think of it all employed in such a cause, to produce 
such results ! Yes ; now I fully and firmly believe that the 
Church will never fall. If such a star made its appearance 
in her sky but once in a century, she would not only 
stand, but prevail. The book has some weak points! I 
say this in order that my admiration may not seem blind 
— but they are lost like spots in the sun. Others before 
Maistre may have felt what the Pope is, but no other writer 
has expressed it as he has done. This extraordinary book, 
which the contemptible generation of to-day barely conde- 
scends to notice, represents the labour of half a lifetime. 
The author, now a man of more than seventy, has evidently 
been engaged upon it for twenty years. A monument 
should be erected to him in one of the great churches of 



ROMANTIC POLITICIANS 327 

Rome. Kings should take counsel with him. As a matter 
of fact, after he has exhausted his private means, all that 
he has obtained from his Government, and that not with- 
out difficulty, is the title of Minister, and an income suf- 
ficient to live upon in Turin with the greatest economy. 
Never has a human being had a better right to say to his 
children : — 

' Disce puer virtutem ex me, verumque laborem, 
Fortunam cxaliisl' 

What a man I and how few of our contemporaries even 
know that he exists I " 

Here, again, we are at a point where the German reaction 
passes, as it were, into the French. 1 

The German reaction is in its essence literary, the 
French political and religious. The former gradually glides 
into Catholicism, the latter is openly and consistently 
Catholic. In every domain, indeed, the French reaction 
upholds the principle of traditional authority, and De 
Maistre is its most earnest and most high-minded, as well 
as one of its most gifted representatives. The witty and 
vigorous panegyrist of the headsman and champion of the 
auto da ft is the conscientious, ardent antagonist of enlight- 
enment and humanitarian ideals. 

The German Romanticists loved twilight and moonshine. 
The blazing daylight of rationalism and the lightning Hashes 
of the French Revolution had driven them to seek comfort in 
the dusk. But what is even Novalis's love of night in com- 
parison with Joseph de Maistre's glorification of darkness ! 

Ancient legend tells that Phaeton, the son of Apollo, 
being allowed one day to drive his father's chariot, guided 
it so carelessly that the sun scorched the whole earth and 
set many of its cities on fire. The fable adds, that a whole 
race of men were so terrified that they with one accord cried 
to the gods to grant them eternal darkness. De Maistre 
is a descendant of that race, and a man who has some claim 

1 Cf. Briefwechstl twischen Friedrick Gent* tend Adam Htinrich Muller. Stutt- 
gart, 1857.— K. Mendelssohn-Bariholdy : Friedruh von Gents. Leipzig, lSCf.—Aui 
dim Nachiasu Friedrick von Geniu Wicn, 1867. 



328 THE ROMANTIC SCHOOL IN GERMANY 

to greatness because of his gifts, his faith in Providence, and 
his contempt for his fellow-men. And to this day there 
exist descendants of the race ; but these have degenerated 
into dwarfish figures, who assert themselves the more the 
more insignificant and timid they are. Their cry, too, is 
" Darkness ! more darkness I " The more devoid they are 
of ideas and aims, the louder they cry, and their only faith 
is faith in the power of darkness. 

Those who, in studying the history of German Roman- 
ticism, pay special attention to the growth of the reaction 
against the spirit of the eighteenth century, are struck by 
the inferiority of the German Romanticists in single-minded 
strength of character to such a reactionary as De Maistre. 
It is to be remembered, however, that they were not statesmen 
and politicians, but authors ; even those among them who, 
like Gentz, represent the transition from literature to politics, 
have no real significance except as writers. 

From the purely literary point of view the Romantic 
School in Germany possesses permanent interest. One has 
but to compare it with the equivalent groups in other lands 
to be fully impressed by the originality and intellectual 
importance of its members. 

A Romantic current is perceptible in the first decades 
of this century in almost every country in Europe ; but 
only in Germany, England, and France is the movement 
a distinctly original and important one ; only in those 
countries is it a European "main current." What we 
observe in the Slavonic countries is more or less an 
echo of English Romanticism. 

The Romantic literature of Scandinavia is strongly in- 
fluenced by that of Germany. 

In Sweden, where Romanticism was known by the 
name of " Phosphorism," or "new school," it attacked (as 
was its wont) French taste in literature, in this instance re- 
presented by the Swedish Academy. In 1807 the "Aurora 
Society" was founded by Atterbom, Hammarskdld, and 
Palmblad. The principles it proclaimed were in all essen- 
tials those of the German Romantic School. Atterbom's 
symbolism reminds us of Tieck's ; Stagnelius has a certain